After last week's shooting rampage in Charleston, S.C., top U.S. officials are pointing to what they consider a rising global security threat: isolated, maladjusted people who latch on to extremist ideologies through the Internet and air what might have been strictly personal grievances by committing mass murder, reports The Guardian. Security experts in and out of the Obama administration say this trend requires a major overhaul of their counter-terrorism strategies, not just debates about gun control or the Confederate flag.
“Before, it was personal,” said John Cohen, ex-Homeland Security Department antiterrorism coordinator. “Someone's boss or father would get killed. Now we're seeing people with similar behavioral traits gravitating to an ideological cause and going to tactics once reserved for terrorist organizations.” He cited the 2011 Anders Breivik killing spree in Norway, the 2012 shootings at a Wisconsin Sikh temple and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing as examples of a growing problem in the digital age. Many law enforcers question whether there is a meaningful divide between foreign-inspired attacks and those fueled by white supremacist or anti-government ideologies. The more important distinction, Cohen said, may be between political actors acting on behalf of larger organizations and individuals who talk in ideological terms but whose motivations are rooted in personal experiences.