The Obama Administration is concerned about the threat posed by lone wolves, the White House said while appealing to Americans to be vigilant, a day after a self-radicalised Afghan-origin youth killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
“This (lone wolves) is obviously something that the President and his national security team are quite concerned about,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters at his daily news conference yesterday.
“The President, I believe on a number of occasions, has noted that the most challenging threat facing our counterterrorism and homeland security officials is disruptive to the activities of a lone wolf,” he said.
“By definition, this (a lone wolf) is an individual that isn’t communicating with too many other people. And it’s hard to get a sense of exactly what they may have planned,” he said in response to a question on lone wolves.
The FBI has been following up and pursuing investigations of crimes that are committed by a lone wolf, he said.
“That they often find, when they’re interviewing people, that people think to themselves — people express regret that they didn’t share something sooner about something that they saw or happened to overhear or otherwise notice,” he said.
“We certainly want people to be vigilant. This is a very significant challenge, and there’s no one on the President’s team that would downplay it,” Earnest said.
Former secretary of state and presumptive presidential nominee of the Democratic party Hillary Clinton also made reference to the lone wolf threat in her speech in Cleveland, Ohio, saying that if elected in the November elections, her top priority would be “identifying and stopping lone wolves”.
“Efforts to defeat ISIS on the battlefield must succeed. But it will take more than that. We have to be just as adaptable and versatile as our enemies. As president, I will make identifying and stopping lone wolves a top priority,” she said.
Earnest said that over the last couple of years, a lot of resources have been dedicated to countering violent extremism. The President has mandated to mobilise resources across the federal government and worked closely with state and local governments to combat violent extremism.
The most effective way to rebut the radicalising messaging from extremist organisations is to have other individuals with legitimacy in the community stand up and speak out against individuals who are seeking to propagate a radical ideology, he argued.
His comments came in the wake of Orlando shooting involving the shooter Omar Mateen, identified as a home grown terrorist who was radicalised over the internet. As many as 49 people were killed and 53 others injured in America’s worst mass shooting.