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‘Lone-Wolf’ Attacks: A Failed Strategy in Saudi Arabia | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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FILE PHOTO: General view of the Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia September 9, 2016. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah/File Photo

Overnight, and only within a few hours, terrorists had successfully crossed all red lines, in an extremely daring attempt to attack and disrupt the peace of one Islam’s holiest sites.

Increasingly, the operatives had the audacity to stage the attempted attack on a sacred night in the holy month of fasting, Ramadan.

The Saudi defense ministry declared on Friday that the attempted terror attack on Mecca’s holy grounds served many foreign agendas aiming to damage the peace and stability of this country.

“Through their daring attempt, members of this terror cell have violated the security of our holy grounds and have severely injured all Muslim communities across the world,” Saudi defense spokesman Major General Mansour Al-Turki told reporters in a broadcast statement.

The government spokesman reiterated that the perpetrators were advancing foreign interests with the aim destabilizing and threatening the country’s security.

One of the many reasons behind the attack targeting Saudi Arabia is that the country is considered by many as a key role player in counterterrorism efforts, particularly in the fight against threats facing the lives and peace of its prosperous community. Its last international effort to fight terror group ISIS was forming multilateral alliances and joining forces against the terror group.

Crippled by their inability to perform large scale attacks against targets, ISIS has been more and more resorting to lone-wolf attacks over the last few years.

Thanks to their accomplishments in the field of improving security, Saudi security forces have successfully pushed back against these terrorist groups, demoralizing all supporters and sympathizers as well.

The first lone-wolf incident staged by an ISIS recruit was registered in 2010 and inspired by Al-Qaeda, which self-proclaimed unilateral attacks as “individual Jihad.” Going by the belief that every one of their soldiers can be his own army.

Lone-wolf tactics are based on deploying autonomous operatives to do the terror group’s bidding and spread its propaganda, without claiming or carrying any obvious ties to the group itself.

After a citizen is radicalized, orchestrating minor yet disrupting attacks are some of the many responsibilities they undertake. Terror attacks across European countries, the United States and Asia in most recent years would lead by example.

Several of lone-wolf operations take root all over the world. Radicalized personnel would contact extremist and terror groups through coded messages and hidden communication networks, later on receiving directions and training needed to stage full-fledged horrendous attacks.

For their part, Saudi security forces of have successfully dismantled many of these operations, for example: The dismantling of an attempt on the lives of worshipers inside the Holy Mosque of the prophet Mohammed on the 29th of Ramadan (4th of July), in 2016. Other than that, the arrest of 46 terror cell suspects, as well as the disbanding of a well-rooted terror cell formed of three connected ISIS-linked webs that were planning multiple attacks.

Concerning security protocols, Saudi security forces have also accomplished a lot to curb terror attacks. Many attacks were thwarted through efforts combating terrorist ideology, or successfully arresting proxies, all the while avoiding civilian casualties.

These accomplishments are materialized in the fruitful breaking up of over 95% of terrorist operations thanks to the strategies exacted by national authorities.

In addition, security measures have given positive results in draining terror-linked parties, such as sympathizers and financial supporter. It is worth mentioning that second-degree affiliates are considered just as dangerous as direct operatives responsible for staging terror attacks.