Are Lone-Wolf Terrorists Our Greatest Threat?

Interviews with people who shape our culture.
June 18 2013 3:49 PM

Beware the Lone-Wolf Terrorist

A former State Department counterterrorism officer on what keeps him up at night.  

Surveillance footage that shows Boston Marathon bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Surveillance footage that shows Boston Marathon bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Photo by Handout/Reuters

The killing of Osama Bin Laden and the systematic elimination of numerous senior al-Qaida operatives during the past 12 years have undoubtedly reduced the risk of terrorism. But the bombing at the Boston Marathon in April reminds us that there are so-called “lone wolf” threats out there that are extremely difficult to track, even within U.S. borders.

Daniel Benjamin says combating this strain of violence is particularly challenging because the perpetrators are often radicalized in a vacuum. The former point person on terrorism at the State Department recently talked to Slate’s Jacob Weisberg about the progress that has been made and where the most potent threats remain.

You can also watch the first part of Benjamin’s interview, in which he explains how President Obama has changed up the war on terror from the Bush years. And look out for a third segment where he discusses a highly effective set of tools in the war on terrorism that gets very little attention.

 

TODAY IN SLATE

History

The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Television

See Me

Transparent is the fall’s only great new show.

Doublex

Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

  News & Politics
Damned Spot
Sept. 30 2014 9:00 AM Now Stare. Don’t Stop. The perfect political wife’s loving gaze in campaign ads.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 10:44 AM Bull---- Market America is overlooking a plentiful renewable resource: animal manure.
  Life
Atlas Obscura
Sept. 30 2014 10:10 AM A Lovable Murderer and Heroic Villain: The Story of Australia's Most Iconic Outlaw
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 29 2014 11:43 PM Lena Dunham, the Book More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal. But… What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 10:48 AM One of Last Year’s Best Animated Shorts Is Finally Online for Free
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:36 AM Almost Humane What sci-fi can teach us about our treatment of prisoners of war.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 30 2014 7:30 AM What Lurks Beneath The Methane Lakes of Titan?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.