Monthly Threat Update October 2020
October witnessed a noticeable increase in the frequency of Islamist attacks in Europe. In France, a spate of attacks related to the ongoing controversy around the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed led the French Interior Ministry to raise the national security alert system to its highest level.
In Germany, an attack on tourists signalled that the threat from Islamist extremism persists regardless of any exacerbating national controversies. In his first public address, the new head of MI5 reiterated this, identifying Islamist extremism as the primary terror threat facing the UK.
While the frequency of recent attacks in France likely reflects a specific national dynamic, the heightened threat landscape across the continent likely represents a return to normalcy after COVID-19-related restrictions disrupted attack plans and restricted the ability of terrorists to target the public. A return to strict ‘lockdown’ measures in response to rising COVID-19 cases would likely see a similar dynamic play out in coming months.