— Mashable (@mashable) October 24, 2014
The NYPD is trying to determine whether a man who attacked four rookie police officers with a hatchet yesterday afternoon has links to terrorist organizations:
Police obtained a warrant to search Zale Thompson’s computer for clues about Thursday’s daytime assault in Queens, which left one officer with a serious head injury. Thompson’s activity on social media indicated he was a convert to Islam and included rants about injustices in American society and oppression abroad but offered no clear evidence of any affiliation with terror groups, police said. Thompson charged a group of four officers with the 18-inch hatchet as they posed for a picture by a freelance photographer on a Jamaica streetcorner, striking one officer in the head and another in the arm, authorities said.
But the anti-American sentiments found in Thompson’s social media postings may also be rooted in militant black nationalism:
One law enforcement official said that the investigation, which is in its early stages, has uncovered rants by Mr. Thompson about the United States, along with statements expressing anger about the role of the United States military in the Middle East. But the official said that Mr. Thompson appeared to be more of what he called “a throwback to the old black radical groups in the 1970s” rather than a traditional jihadist, though the investigation has uncovered writings or statements expressing “hatred of America, the need for revolution and the need to punish America.”
ISIS has specifically called for “lone-wolf” attacks against Western countries, and it seems entirely possible that [Canadian assailants] Zehaf-Bibeau and Couture-Rouleau, both reportedly active in jihadist web forums, could have hatched these not-particularly-sophisticated plots on their own. This certainly isn’t cause for comfort, though. Self-starting terrorists are a lot more difficult to track than those with direct ties to international networks.