Seattle recently observed a unique breed of terrorist in the person of Christopher John Monfort. Monfort allegedly assassinated a Seattle police officer on Halloween night. The slain officer was conducting on-the-job training with another officer as the officers sat in a patrol car discussing a traffic stop that occurred right before the shooting.
Almost immediately after apprehending Monfort, the Seattle Police Department labeled Monfort a “domestic terrorist.” According to the Seattle Times, a search of Monfort’s apartment produced bomb-making materials and a “military-style assault rifle” similar to the type of weapon police believe was used to fire at Brenton, 39, and Sweeney, 33. Nevertheless, it is not bombs or an assault rifle that justifies labeling Monfort a terrorist.
The police also found a manifesto protesting police brutality, and a video of an alleged jail cell beating of a 15-year-old girl by a King County Sheriff’s deputy last year in SeaTac. Additionally, there was a note in which Monfort threatened to kill law enforcement officers if the violence didn’t stop. Monfort is a “lone wolf” terrorist because of his political motives, even though he apparently acted without a direct connection to a terrorist organization.
But is it true that very few terrorist attacks have been perpetrated by lone-wolf operatives in the U.S.? A lone-wolf terrorist is embedded in the targeted society and is capable of self-activation at any time. By definition, he does not receive instructions from others. Thus, when such a terrorist conducts operations, the media and political authorities are reluctant to identify such activities as terrorism because of the lack of organizational ties.
Another lone wolf is Major Hasan, the Palestinian-American soldier-psychiatrist that allegedly committed the equally premeditated murder of 13 fellow soldiers inside Fort Hood. Such lone wolves seem to be a rare breed. Experts suggest that he snapped because he was caught between his values as a “good American” soldier and the obligation not to kill a fellow Muslim. The debate is bound to continue as to whether Hasan is a terrorist or simply a disturbed individual.
News outlets often play down the terrorist aspect of such stories. They virtually ignore Islamic connections and/or fail to report certain kinds of stories. Connecting the dots within the developing pattern of domestic lone-wolf terrorism is difficult, and information is hard to find. Nevertheless, we have to recognize that Montfort, Hasan and scores of other less well-known perpetrators are domestic terrorists — i.e., individuals acting out of political or religious motivation with no direct connection to a known organizational structure, accomplices or any identifiable cell group.
The Seattle Police Department and the news media have done an excellent job in identifying Montfort for what he is. Such individuals are wolves that are easy to see if it were not for a cultural environment that harbors animosity toward law enforcement and our military. Animosity toward those that preserve and protect provides social camouflage in which such terrorists can easily hide.