Monthly Threat Update May 2021
There were no significant terrorist attacks in the UK or Western Europe in May 2021. However, instability in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine has seemingly led to an increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes and violence in the UK and US. In response to the violence, Islamist terrorist groups have urged their supporters worldwide to mount attacks on Jewish communities and associated targets..
In the UK, the British Standards Institution (BSI) in conjunction with several government departments, has introduced new regulations for the rental of vans and commercial vehicles. The new standards require background checks to be carried out on those attempting to rent vans to mitigate against Vehicle-as-Weapon (VAW) attacks such as the 2017 London Bridge attack.
Separately, in Belgium, police are currently searching for a soldier with far-right links suspected of acquiring sophisticated munitions and making threats towards a Belgian COVID-19 expert. The incident highlights the risk of insider threats within military and security forces, as well as the use of the pandemic by far-right groups as a recruiting and propaganda tool.
A ransomware cyber-attack shut down the US’s largest pipeline system, the Colonial Pipeline for six-days, causing widespread fuel shortages and price rises in several US states. The attack, one of the most significant on US critical national infrastructure, by a hacker group, resulted in the pipeline operator’ paying a ransom of nearly 75 Bitcoins ($4.4m) to the DarkSide hacker group.
A new French ‘Anti-Terrorism’ bill has been introduced which will extend measures to strengthen the monitoring and surveillance of newly released terrorist offenders and online terrorist activities. Like many other European countries, France is preparing the release of up to 200 Islamist extremist foreign fighters over the next two years. The new all-encompassin