Our Opinion: Critically important

David Wright clearly is a troubled young man, perhaps in part because of a lack of intellectual energy. He is an American citizen, a resident of Everett, Mass. He also is a terrorist.

Wright has been convicted of involvement in a terrorist scheme to behead a conservative blogger, Pamela Geller. Via the internet, Islamic State operatives convinced Wright that Geller deserved to die because she organized a cartoon contest involving the Prophet Muhammad. Prosecutors say Wright organized the plan to kill Geller. It fell apart when his uncle attacked Boston police with a knife and was shot dead. A third man was arrested and pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges.

In his testimony, Wright cried and insisted he meant no harm to come to anyone. Yet he researched ways to kill Geller, used a Twitter account to seek recruits for a “martyrdom operation cell,” and collected gory Islamic State videos.

He spent much of his time playing video games and just wanted attention, Wright said. His scheme was only a “fantasy,” he insists.

What police know about Wright and his own testimony make him appear to be less a committed extremist than an intellectually lazy man who went through life almost eager to be manipulated.

How many other Americans are like Wright — easy pickings for devious terrorist groups who are masters of manipulative psychology?

Destroying Islamic terrorist groups where they live — and that is not just in the Middle East — needs to be our primary strategy in eliminating a very real threat to civilized people.

But for years, ISIS, al-Qaida and similar organizations have not been able to mount their own attacks in the American homeland. Our military and intelligence agencies have been strikingly effective in thwarting them.

The terrorists have turned instead to so-called “lone-wolf” attacks by people who live among us, and in other nations victimized by bombings, truck attacks and mass shootings.

With material like Wright at their disposal, the terrorists’ success is easy to understand. Identifying and apprehending terrorist wannabes like him will be critical in keeping Americans safe.


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