Lone wolf terrorists have changed their targets and methods of attack since 9/11, according to an Indiana State University study, but have not become more lethal.
Researchers catalogued 98 instances between 1940 and 2013 in which acts of political violence were planned and perpetrated by individuals — a list that includes all known lone wolf attacks during that period.
Sixty of the cases took place after 9/11, according to the study, which found modern-era lone wolves are significantly more likely to use high-velocity firearms than their counterparts who attacked before many U.S. gun laws were relaxed during the 1990s.
“However, 15 cases were law enforcement sting operations involving confidential informants and undercover agents; hence they do not qualify as authentic lone wolf cases,” researchers wrote.
The 38 lone wolves before 9/11, who included such prolific terrorists as Ted Kaczynski and Joseph Paul Franklin, were considerably more lethal, researchers found. They killed 98 people and injured 305 during 171 attacks. The 45 lone wolves who committed 45 attacks between 2001 and 2013, killed 55 people, injuring another 126.
After 9/11, the nature of lone wolf attacks underwent dramatic changes, according to the study.
The most significant change involves the targeting of uniformed police and military officers. Twelve law enforcement officers were killed or wounded by lone wolf terrorists in the 60 years preceding 9/11. This figure doubled in the first 13 years following 9/11 when the number of law enforcement personnel killed or wounded by lone wolves rose to 24. All of these attacks were bracketed by the years 2009 through 2013—the years coinciding with the Barack Obama presidency. Lone wolf attacks against police before 9/11 were motivated by black power, the Palestinian question and abortion. With one exception, since 9/11 attacks on law enforcement have been motivated by anti-government and white supremacy anger over the election of the nation's first African American president.
Read the full study HERE.