Absolutely. One of the things I found in my research was that lone wolves like to talk. Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber (who, between 1978 and 1995, planted and mailed homemade bombs that killed three people and injured 23 others around the country), made a demand that the New York Times and the Washington Post publish his manifesto, which they did. He was finally captured after 17 years when his brother recognized the writing style and the argument, and was able to turn Kaczynski in. We see a lot of manifestos now in the day of the Internet. The thing that you really want to do with all lone wolves, in fact, is entice them to communicate. The more they communicate, the more they give themselves away and the better the chances of apprehending them.
To what extent does mental instability play a part in the lone wolf?
Kaczynski, I think, was diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic. He couched his motives in political terms, but, really, he was mentally ill and had other issues going on. From reading Dorner’s manifesto, I’m not sure how much of it was depression or things along those lines. But he was definitely a very angry individual. Lone wolves can be very smart and very creative even if they are suffering from mental illness. This kind of individual will usually never make it into a terrorist group. “We’re not going to admit you into our group because you may get us in trouble.” An example is Timothy McVeigh, who was responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing. (In 1995, he killed 168 people and injured more than 800.) His motivation was retaliation for the government raid [of an extremist religious group’s compound] at Waco, Texas. He had approached originally militia groups, but they turned him away because they felt he was too extreme.
Some public sympathy and support emerged for Dorner online, including several Facebook pages with comments like, “a black night for justice.” Is this unusual?
That’s not surprising. It happened in the case of Eric Rudolph, who set a bomb off at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and then later bombed abortion clinics. He was on the run for five years. Until he was caught, all kinds of Facebook pages surfaced in support of him, basically as the anti-hero, your basic David-and-Goliath. Anytime you have a lone wolf doing something for some “cause,” they’re going to get supporters all over the place. It doesn’t take much to create a Facebook page and get all sorts of followers and friends.
Do you see anything positive resulting from the Dorner case – changes at the LAPD, for example?
Any kind of terrorist attack, whether it’s a lone wolf or a group, sparks debate about the issues that motivated them. Look at 9/11. Before that, nobody really knew about Bin Laden and al-Qaeda; 9/11 opened up all kinds of debate about policy and things along those lines. Dorner raised questions about what’s going on in LAPD, and there are indications that they’re going to open up an investigation. But that can’t really justify what happened. There were so many people who lost their lives and others who are going to be damaged for the rest of their lives.