In a recent article on Foreign Affairs, Barak Mendelsohn, identifies four reasons why lone-wolf attacks have increasingly become a common strategy used by extremists.
1) It is cheap and relatively easy. It requires no planning on the extremist group’s part or even contact with, or knowledge of, the perpetrators.
2) Lone wolves frustrate preventive measures since they cannot be identified ahead of time, given they have no direct connection to extremist organizations, and in this way, shelters the group’s foreign networks from possible exposure.
3) Lone-wolf attacks are damaging to both a nation’s psychology and its leadership, raising fear and inciting alarmism among civilians while making governments appear helpless and even incompetent.
4) The worldwide proliferation of lone-wolf terrorism boosts extremist groups’ image, demonstrating their reach and appeal to both enemies and sympathizers.
The whole article can be found on Foreign Affairs, ISIS’s Lone Wolf Strategy, August 25, 2016.