Kevin Williamson of National Review Online reacts to the latest evidence of likely Islamist terrorism.

One of the great problems we face in our ongoing confrontation with Islamic fundamentalism is that our enemies are rational and we are not.

It is a mistake — one that we insist on repeating — to tell ourselves that the jihadists and ISIS groupies who perpetuate terrorist spectaculars such as the attack on the Pulse nightclub outside Orlando are irrational, that they are mentally disorganized lunatics of the familiar-enough sort exemplified by Jared Lee Loughner and John Salvi, who may or may not believe themselves to be acting in the service of a particular cause. (Salvi was an abortion opponent who believed that a Vatican-based currency-manipulation scheme was shaping world affairs, and who believed himself to have been targeted by, among others, the Cosa Nostra and the Freemasons. Loughner, too, was obsessed with a currency-manipulation conspiracy.) Lunacy is not what we are seeing with domestic jihadists. What we see instead is the pursuit of specific cultural and political ends through acts of violence directed at symbolically important soft targets.

We speak of “lone wolf” jihadists as though this phenomenon were somehow independent of the wider Islamist project. It is not. The model of “leaderless resistance” in the service of terrorist projects is not new, and it has not been employed by the Islamists at random. Leaderless resistance has long been a part of the thinking of neo-Nazi groups such as Brüder Schweigen, and the Islamists have had a great deal of opportunity to develop that approach in various insurgencies around the world. Equally important, the emergence of the Internet as a worldwide medium for political communication and cultural expression has provided 21st-century terrorists with opportunities that were far out of the reach of their mimeograph- and fax-dependent predecessors a generation ago. If Omar Mateen turns out, as expected, to have had little or no substantive contact with organized Islamist groups, that fact will demonstrate the success of their communication strategy rather than the limitations of their reach.