The Irrational Actor and Asymmetric Propaganda Jihads
The Irrational Actor:
EVERYONE has lost their shit over the attack on Pulse in Orlando. The media is in a feeding frenzy, Twitter is lit up with rhetoric and those flogging their points of view, and even I had a moment of “SOMEONE ON THE INTERNET IS WRONG!” which some of you probably will say is just par for the course with me. I am trying to stay out of it as much as possible after yesterday and it has even led me to look at the Twitter feed much less because it just drags you into the collective mass hysteria when you do, but I thought it appropriate to have a moment of clarity and maybe introspection here and leave the arena altogether.
Many of the reports on the news and the tweets in the feeds are verbally gesticulating about how this attacker was inspired by or a lone wolf for Da’esh and arguing about this fact or that that really have yet to be categorically proven. I would like you all to just take what is known as of today and step back a moment from the whole jihad angle and look at the actor as one might in a profiling situation that the FBI might carry out. What motivated this guy? How did he carry things out? What are his past actions?
- The FBI looked into him three times because he was pegged by others as being a potential terrorist from comments he made
- The FBI talked to him and found out that he did not know about the groups in any real in depth way and that he seemed to be attention seeking or perhaps a bit unbalanced
- As of late yesterday reports have surfaced that this man was a closeted individual (wife and others reporting this)
Now, if you removed all of the surface content of jihad and da’esh all you have is that this guy seemed to have some internal struggles from his upbringing and his proclivities. He was raised in a household that may have adhered to a more strict interpretations of right and wrong (in their minds about perhaps sexuality) and by indications today, may have caused a fair bit of self loathing for his own desires. Suffice to say this guy had issues and that perhaps was the stressor that lead to this incident. What I want you all to consider here is that without the jihad angle, this guy is what is termed as a “Spree Killer” what has everyone bent is the fear of terrorism on American soil but they are failing to see the forest for the trees in this case.
Now this brings me to the irrational actor part of the title to this post. Everyone and their brother is going on and on about terrorism, lone wolves, and planning while I would suggest that we consider that this guy was an irrational actor with an organized personality. What this in fact means is that he was stressed, he was unbalanced, perhaps delusional, but he was also an organized killer. He planned this attack out and carried it off, but he was not what I would consider a rational actor motivated by an ethos of Radical Islam. I would instead really like to say he was a troubled individual who used Da’esh as much as they used him after he carried out this heinous crime. Each served their purpose for rationalizing their irrational and malevolent behaviour.
So, please take a step back and consider that this spree killer did what he did and blamed it all on an ethos that he may not have wholly understood nor believed in. Had he really been a true believer then he might have gone to Syria or been a under more prevalent scrutiny by the authorities. Instead he was taken off the watch list because he wasn’t seen as a real threat in the sense of being a true jihadi. Of course perhaps he should have been considered a threat under the rubric of being an unbalanced individual who may act out.. But we really do not have that option here do we?
The Asymmetric Propaganda Jiahd:
On the other side of this issue we have much being bandied about by the media and the bevy of former CT/Security darlings who get air time about how the paradigm has changed since this attack was carried out. Has it really? How long has “Open Source Jihad” been around anyway? Oh yeah, years. Inspire was the first magazine to coin the term and since its inception there have been more than a few attacks in various places around the world that I would equate with the teachings of OSJ as being a source of inspiration. So now that someone has killed 49 people on US soil it is suddenly a paradigm change?
The fact of the matter is this, this asymmetric propaganda war has been being waged for years first by AQ/AQAP and perfected with Da’esh’s tweaks that made it more appealing to the unbalanced amongst us. As we have seen over the last few years the government finally started to understand the problem and so too have companies like Twitter who is trying to fight it with account banishments. Of course nothing has worked so far and the message keeps getting through over a medium that is the internet as a whole. Communication at the speed of light is the medium and there is no putting that genie back in the bottle. We must come up with more thoughtful and meaningful approaches on how to fight it but so far the US government has only half heartedly attempted a counter propaganda campaign “Think again look away” that frankly seems to have been written by advertising reps from the 50’s.
The reality is this; In the last year there have been one hundred and thirty three mass shootings in the US since January first 2016. Two of these to my knowledge have been at all related to jihad. When are we going to look at the larger issue of the spree killings and the psychology of irrational actors perpetrating them instead of focusing on the jihadi aspect of only two? This is the crux of the issue and I have to tell you all here that like psychological profiling, it is an art, not a science. What I am trying to really say here is that there is no way to really stop these things from happening. In the case of Omar Mateen, he said things and was investigated but unless he was put under complete surveillance 24/7 there were no solid ways to determine his actions to come. Hell, for that matter, the stressor of being under scrutiny could have been the straw that breaks the camels back and caused an attack!
Everyone needs to understand that life is random. The universe is random, and there is no sure way to stop these attacks.
No guns… Sure, someone will get a katana and hack people to death
Surveillance of everything in drift-net unstructured data…. Still won’t help if you aren’t analysing it all and even then you miss things.
Investigations like the FBI carried out and being put on watch lists… Nope as we can see it did not work.
All of you need to understand that you could die slipping in your shower just as much as being killed by a spree killer with an AR-15. It’s just the roll of the cosmic dice. I am of course not saying that we don’t need to try, but let’s not react the way I have been seeing in the media, the net, and the everywhere after this attack. It does no one any good. Was what Omar did terrorism? Yes, it was because his goal was achieved, just look around you now.