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SPLC releases training video to help police combat ‘lone wolf’ extremists

A recent SPLC study found that three-quarters of recent domestic terrorist attacks or plots were the work of one person.

In response to the Charleston church massacre this summer, the SPLC has produced a training video to help law enforcement officers combat “lone wolf” domestic terrorists.

Designed to be shown to officers during roll call, Understanding the Threat: The Rise of the Lone Wolf focuses on violent extremists who commit acts of terror entirely on their own, without the help, financ­ing or guidance of other individuals or groups.

Understanding the Threat: The Rise of the Lone Wolf

About 60,000 officers will receive the video free of charge with the law enforcement edition of the SPLC’s investigative journal, Intelligence Report, which is being released today. It will also be available upon request.

“Extremists are increasingly acting alone or in pairs when they plot violent attacks,” said Mark Potok, senior fellow at the SPLC. “And lone wolf plots are by far the most difficult for law enforcement officials to detect in advance.”

A recent SPLC report, Age of the Wolf, found that 74 percent of the domestic terror­ist incidents over the last six years were carried out or plotted by lone wolves. Nine out of 10 were the work of no more than two people.

Noting a surge in radical-right terrorism, the Department of Justice announced this month that it was creating a new, high-level post to coordinate the fight against domestic terrorist attacks.

Several examples of deadly “lone wolf” attacks are highlighted in the new SPLC video: the attack on the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston that left nine black parishioners dead in June; the 2014 attack on Jewish institutions in Kansas that left three people dead; and the 2012 attack on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin that left six dead and four wounded, including a police officer who survived being shot 17 times.

“In the past, it was easy to spot the haters in their hoods and robes, their shaved heads and jackboots or their paramilitary uniforms, but times have changed and so have our homegrown terrorists,” said Greensboro, North Carolina, police Sgt. Kory Flowers, who appears in the video. “That means law enforcement has to change the way we keep the public and ourselves safe.”

Earlier SPLC training videos have focused on “sovereign citizens,” people who believe most laws don’t apply to them; racist skinheads, known for their brutality and affinity for vio­lence; and Aryan prison gangs, which have increas­ingly spilled from behind bars onto city streets.