Originally published in Greek language in Huffington Post Greece on May 24, 2017
The ghost of fear of terrorist attacks has long dominated the atmosphere of Europe as a whole. The atmosphere has intensified even more over the last two years since the emergence of the ISIS terrorist organization and the launch of a series of terrorist attacks in Western countries. These attacks have affected Western societies, which are characterized as open to all religions and beliefs in order to become more conservative and less tolerant. Their political choices were also affected, as shown by the rise of the far-right in the elections of several Western countries. The French elections were the most representative example. Right-wing Marine Lepen managed to reach the second round and lost only when almost all other candidates supported Emmanuel Macron.
A few days ago, ISIS released a new 45-minute video titled “We Will Surely Guide Them to Our Ways,” which describes the organization’s ability to develop weapons and military technology. The video uses non-Arab fighters who speak English, French and Russian. However, the striking feature of this video is the epilogue, a message for whoever wants to organize terrorist action in France, what is the best way to do it, what means to use, and how to choose the goals of churches and crowded places. This confirms that ISIS suffers from a shortage of people to carry out terrorist acts in the West. Here I will try to explain the types of terrorist attacks carried out by ISIS.
1) Actions directly regulated by the organization
Such examples are the attack on Bataclan and Brussels airport. Both attacks were carried out using automatic weapons and prepared explosives. The perpetrators are familiar with military targets and have experience in using weapons. This type of attack is based on sending trained elements from Syria and Iraq to Europe, with knowledge of weapons and the construction of explosives. The choice is made between citizens of the West to facilitate their movement. However, this type of business has been hampered by the fact that the borders of Iraq and Syria are strictly controlled. Western countermeasures have tracked all those who have joined terrorist groups, making their moves very difficult. That’s why these operations have stopped for a long time since they are easy to prevent.
2) Actions coordinated by the organization
Such is the recent assault in Paris, where the perpetrator used a machine gun aimed at a police patrol in the Champs Elysées area. This type of attack is based on the contact the organization maintains with its supporters in Europe through social communication networks, giving them information on how to obtain weapons, the timing of the attack and the place. Behind this type of attack is very likely to be hidden secret services, due to the difficulty of providing weapons, the choice of position and time which, in the case of Paris, was meant to favor a candidate. This type of action is addressed by increasing the electronic surveillance of people who have previously had contacts with terrorist organizations.
3) Random attacks
Examples are recent attacks in Nice and Berlin. This type of attack is carried out by people who have never contacted ISIS. It is simple and a truck is used as a weapon to hurt as large a population as possible. It should be noted that these attacks are adopted by ISIS after they have happened, because in fact they have no prior involvement and cooperation, so it awaits the information that will be given by the media to claim paternity. This is because there is a need to preserve the prestige of the organization and to show that it still has the power to attack the West. The process of preventing such attacks is very complicated because the attackers are not connected to any terrorist organization in the past and have no history of criminal or terrorist acts, which makes it difficult to deal with them.
The organization’s recent video is an important piece of information for international secret services, demonstrating the need to increase the alert status especially during festivities, or during events. In the coming days, we may see other terrorist attacks in the West, with France being at the top of the list.