The two suspects arrested near the body of British soldier Lee Rigby are still in the hospital, but the investigation into Rigby’s hacking death is going strong, with police announcing their tenth arrest in connection with the case.
Plenty were quick to call the brutal slaying in Woolwich the work of a “lone wolf,” with news outlets like NBC wondering at length if isolated attacks were the new face of terrorism.
Perhaps the true “lone wolf” in the case was Andrew Gilligan of the U.K. Telegraph, who wrote the dissenting opinion in the form of a column claiming the “lone wolf” terrorist is a myth.
Journalists and analysts rushed to explain the attack as the work of “lone wolves”, “self-radicalised” online. Politicians demanded crackdowns on jihadi websites and the revival of the so-called “snoopers’ charter”, a Bill allowing the authorities to monitor the internet use of every person in the country, in the belief that the plot could somehow then have been detected.
But the parrot-cry that the most serious terrorists are radicalised in a vacuum, alone in their bedrooms, is almost never true. It is rather a large step to go out with a machete and murder in cold blood a total stranger. It is the culmination of a long journey between normality and fanaticism, usually (if not quite always) needing help from other people on the way.
Michael Adebolajo, the “lone wolf” who (with an accomplice) was captured on video after the attack with blood-covered hands, was arrested in Kenya in 2010. Police suspected he and five others were attempting to cross the border to join al-Shabab, a cell of al-Qaeda based in Somalia.