Europe reeling following wave of terror
LONDON - Europe was reeling following a slew of lone-wolf terrorist attacks in France and Germany demonstrated the ever-changing threat posed by the Islamic State (ISIS) and its narrative.
The killing of an 85-year-old Catholic priest in a church in northern France by two teenagers of North African descent who pledged allegiance to ISIS was less than two weeks after the Bastille Day attack in Nice where authorities faced criticism for failing to protect the crowded celebrations on the Promenade des Anglais in which 84 people were killed.
French authorities were under additional pressure after it was revealed that both attackers in Saint- Etienne-du-Rouvray were being monitored before the attack. One of the attackers had been stopped from travelling to Syria and was facing unrelated terrorism-related charges. He was out on bail and his electronic bracelet was turned off for four hours each day, the window during which priest Jacques Hamel was killed.
Attacks in Germany by recent arrivals — an axe assault on a train in Wurzburg by an Afghan teen and a suicide-bombing in Ansbach by a Syrian refugee with ties to ISIS — raised questions about Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door refugee policy.
Fears of terrorism were high in Germany after an earlier shooting and a knife attack in which a total of 11 people were killed.
German authorities were criticised for their handling of the Ansbach bombing, in which 15 people were injured, after it was revealed that the bomber was known to have fought for an al-Qaeda-affiliated group in Syria. ISIS subsequently claimed the attacker as a member.
The recent attacks were carried out by so-called “lone wolves” and all the assailants filmed videos pledging allegiance to ISIS. Such actions represent a new phenomenon of ISIS-inspired terrorism carried out by people with no direct link to ISIS but whose attacks are subsequently claimed by the group.
Another twist, as shown by the attacks in Nice, Normandy and Wurzburg, involved terrorists using low-grade, everyday items — knives and a lorry — as their weapons.
ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani previously called on supporters in the West to kill those the group deemed non-believers “in any manner or way, however it may be”.
“Smash his head with a rock or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him or poison him,” Adnani said.