So last night I wrote with regard to the San Bernardino attack “I now officially think that maybe what happened here was that the shooters were planning a terrorist op, but decided to cook off early” on Twitter, and I’ve decided that I should probably explain and expand on that one a bit further. Regrettably, what happened yesterday is one of those things that might end up happening more and more in the future; and if it does, we need to be prepared for it.

Before we go any further: I think that we can stop pretending that this wasn’t an outbreak of Islamist (note word) terror. By ‘we’ of course I mean ‘those of us who aren’t Democrats.’ The Other Side may be stuck having to parrot the party line that ‘workplace violence’ is the proximate cause here; but the combination of heavy planning, a change in the male attacker’s personality/demeanor, and frankly his travel history is wearily familiar to anybody’s who has been paying attention for the last decade or so. You don’t make bombs in your basement on the spur of the moment. The attackers had a plan*.

So, the big question is: was attacking the Inland Regional Center the plan all along? Or did the attackers have another target in mind, but instead switched over to this one instead? The answer does matter, of course: one thing that we’d like to know rather badly is whether or not Islamic State (or any other death cult) has the technical capacity to run terror ops on US soil on their own. If they can’t, really – if they have to rely instead on whatever local cultists they can gather up – that’s important information.

Personally, I don’t think that Islamic State quite has that capacity – yet – but that they’re actively working out how to get it. So what I think happened here is that IS was priming these particular cultists for something with a larger potential victim pool.  Unfortunately for IS, cultists tend to be unstable people, and maybe these particular homegrown jihadis just couldn’t stick to the plan. Certainly the cultists were trying to get away, which is one reason why the entire thing seemed so odd – but it makes sense if you assume that said cultists were attempting to finish their original mission.

Mind you, all of this is rampant speculation. But if our enemies are trying to strike at us from a remove, as it were, that’s both good and bad news. Bad news in that it’s easier for them to do that than it was for Al Qaeda to bring off 9/11.  Good news in that death cultists are, in the end, unreliable…

Moe Lane

*And, according to NBC News this evening, the attackers also had “communication with people overseas who are persons of interest to U.S. authorities.”