“Many in Washington act like if these murderers don’t have a written work order from a specifically branded terrorist organization, then we can pretend these are one-off acts conducted by isolated individuals. We must recognize this is a larger jihadi strategy to wage war on free people through crowd-sourced terrorism.”

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, issued the following statement regarding our ongoing war against violent jihadism following Thursday’s heart-breaking attacks in Tennessee.

“Although the investigation of Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez is ongoing and will reveal more information in the coming days, we may never know the complete motive behind why this man targeted our neighbors in uniform. Americans from sea to sea lift up the victims’ loved ones in our thoughts and prayers.

“Yesterday’s attack reminds us that we have entered a new phase in our war against violent jihadism. Our enemies are not exclusively focused on a command-and-control attack strategy. Violent jihadis seek to radicalize ‘lone-wolf’ attackers—often young and religiously serious Muslim men—to see as battlefields what we know as shopping malls.

“The same technology we use to share photos of our children they now use to radicalize the susceptible into believing they should murder for a cause bigger than themselves.“Many in Washington act like if these murderers don’t have a written work order from a specifically branded terrorist organization, then we can pretend these are one-off acts conducted by isolated individuals. We must recognize this is a larger jihadi strategy to wage war on free people through crowd-sourced terrorism. 

“Sadly, the crowd-sourcing of domestic terror is likely a part of our coming decades. Dangerous, ideologically-motivated, small cells and ‘lone-wolves’ are bent on murder and want to disrupt the rhythms of daily American life.  Denying this reality will not make us safer. 

“We have seen for months that crowd-sourcing and online recruiting are deliberate tactics of al-Qa’ida, the Islamic State, and others.  Many jihadis have explicitly stated their desire for a wave of self-directed attacks across the globe.  In the past, we understandably sought direct connections between terrorists and global organizations, but this ‘smoking gun’ approach will become less and less useful. Moreover, any belief— stated or implied— that these attacks are somehow diminished or less perilous because we cannot identify all direct links between attackers and specific terrorist leaders overseas demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of today’s counterterrorism environment.

“New realities and new threats demand new acknowledgements and new strategies. We must be as adaptive, persuasive and creative as our enemies. Today, we are not. Washington must stop acting as if the only terrorist attacks that matter are the ones carried out by card-carrying members of al-Qa’ida or the Islamic State.

“Make no mistake: violent jihadism will eventually be discarded alongside fascism and communism, the failed despotic ideologies of the 20th century. We owe it to our nation and to our children to commit ourselves to this long and difficult task.”