Fourth Generation Warfare

Lone Wolf Terror and the Rise of Leaderless Resistance

On July 22, 2011, Anders Behring Breivik detonated a car bomb in downtown Oslo, Norway. He didn’t stop there, traveling several hours from the city to ambush a youth camp while the rest of Norway was distracted by his earlier attack. That’s where the facts end. But what motivated him? Did he have help staging the attacks? The evidence suggests a startling truth: that this was the work of one man, pursuing a mission he was convinced was just.

If Breivik did indeed act alone, he wouldn’t be the first. Timothy McVeigh bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City based essentially on his own motivations. Eric Robert Rudolph embarked on a campaign of terror over several years, including the Centennial Park bombing at the 1996 Olympics. Ted Kaczynski was revealed to be the Unabomber that same year. And these are only the most notable examples. As George Michael demonstrates in Lone Wolf Terror and the Rise of Leaderless Resistance, they are not isolated cases. Rather, they represent the new way warfare will be conducted in the twenty-first century.

Lone Wolf Terror investigates the motivations of numerous political and ideological elements, such as right-wing individuals, ecoextremists, foreign jihadists, and even quasi-governmental entities. In all these cases, those carrying out destructive acts operate as “lone wolves” and small cells, with little or no connection to formal organizations. Ultimately, Michael suggests that leaderless resistance has become the most common tactical approach of political terrorists in the West and elsewhere.

“From the ancient strategies of Sun Tzu to the activities of contemporary ‘leaderless’ jihadists, George Michael has provided a richly detailed, timely, and fascinating account of the evolution of lone wolf terrorism and the development of a so-called fifth generation of warfare.”
Darren Mulloy, Wilfrid Laurier University, author of American Extremism

“The topic of leaderless resistance/lone wolf terrorism is certainly a significant issue at the present time to both policy makers and academics. … A comprehensive scholarly overview of most of the significant theories and research on terrorism.”
Christopher Hewitt, author of Understanding Terrorism in America

“As globalization continues to process a lot of populist anger over injustices–both perceived and real–stemming from its rapid expansion into traditional cultures, the world is going to suffer a lot more of the ‘leaderless’ terrorism that Michael explores in this wonderfully evenhanded book. Those hunting for solutions–in addition to the ‘bad guys’–would do well to add this to their reading list.”
Thomas P. M. Barnett, Chief Analyst, Wikistrat

“George Michael’s readable, well-researched, and theoretically informed book probes the vital question of the shape that violent nonstate actors will take as we move into an era of government austerity and a general weakening of the nation-state, even as technological advances may allow individuals or small groups to carry out unprecedented levels of violence. An important contribution to our understanding of a problem that will unfortunately continue to bedevil us.”
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, author of Bin Laden’s Legacy

“In this important book, strategist George Michael argues that there has been ‘a shift from terrorism by organized groups to terrorism by unaffiliated individuals’ and draws the implications of this epochal change. He does so by placing this development in the history of modern warfare, surveying the leaderless resistance phenomenon, and persuasively warning about the danger of lone wolves who engage in terrorism ‘on their own initiative with no traditional command-and-control hierarchy.'”
Daniel Pipes, author of Militant Islam Reaches America

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