The summer tourist season in Europe is nearly in full swing. Millions of people from all over the world will travel across Europe to such destinations as London, Paris, Berlin, Barcelona, and Istanbul. The influx of summer tourists also presents an attractive target to terrorist cells and inspired individuals wishing to carry out attacks.
Each of the aforementioned cities has suffered devastating terrorist attacks, from vehicle-rammings to stabbings and machete attacks.
The latest incident occurred on 12 May 2018, when a 19-year-old man born in Russia's Chechnya region went on a stabbing spree near the Paris Opera House, killing one person and injuring four before being shot dead by police. He repeatedly yelled the Arabic phrase "Allahu Akbar", meaning "God is great" while carrying out the attack. Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the man was a soldier of the Islamic State. It is likely he was inspired by the group and not actually directed by higher-ups in the organization. ISIS typically claims responsibility for these types of attacks, especially when the suspect is killed.
The stabbing follows recent vehicle-ramming attacks in Europe, which have been a constant threat since July 2016, when a French-Algerian terrorist drove a stolen truck down a crowded road in Nice, France during Bastille Day celebrations, killing 86 people and injuring over 450 more. See below recent vehicle and stabbing attacks in Europe.
- Paris, France - May 2018 - 1 killed, 4 injured
- Munster, Germany - April 2018 - 2 killed, 19 injured
- Barcelona, Spain - August 2017 - 13 killed, 130 injured
- London Bridge, UK - July 2017 - 8 killed - 48 injured
- Westminster London, UK - March 2017 - 5 killed, 50 injured
- Berlin Germany - December 2016 - 12 killed, 56 injured
- Nice, France - July 2016 - 86 killed, 458 injured
- The threat of terrorist attack has not diminished in Europe
- Vehicle attacks have proven to be a highly effective and deadly method of carrying out terrorist attacks or causing mass casualties. Using large vehicles, ranging from vans to semi-trucks, assailants have been able to target crowded pedestrians areas, and inflict maximum damage before resorting to conventional firearm or knife attacks.
- Little or no planning is required, and no extensive training is necessary to operate a vehicle, making it a readily available and accessible tool for carrying out attacks.
- Security forces have little ability to predict or foil a vehicle-based attack.
How to stay safe
- Maintain situational awareness - do not have your head buried in your cell phone while walking down crowded sidewalks or in dense tourist areas
- If attending an event as a spectator such as parade or marathon race:
- Stay near street corners rather than the middle of the block
- Don't stand against immovable objects such as doors/walls where you could get pinned
- Stay behind heavy security barriers
- Run toward safety, not just away from danger
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