While much of the focus in recent years has been on international terrorism and militant groups, recent murders of a Kansas doctor and Holocaust Museum guard were reminders that “lone-wolf” extremists are dangerous. The Wall Street Journal also cites the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the 1996 Olympic bombing in Atlanta and the series of bombings carried out over decades by Theodore Kaczynski.
The FBI has stepped up efforts to pre-empt violence by lone extremists, one element of a broader strategy to fight domestic terrorism. “Operation Vigilant Eagle” was launched late last year in response to what an FBI memo identified as “an increase in recruitment, threatening communications, and weapons procurement by white supremacy extremist and militia/sovereign citizen extremist groups.” But the recent killings also show the limits of the lone-wolf effort. Both the doctor and the guard were murdered by men who had openly expressed extremist views.