Individual Shot By Police During Arson Attack

Jun 12, 2024 | Threat Analysis, Threat Landscape

Author: Oliver Hair ASyI,
Threat Analyst

Read Time: 3 minutes 

On 17 May 2024, an individual who reportedly set fire to a synagogue was shot dead by police in Rouen, France. French authorities alleged that the individual was armed with a 25cm knife and threatened police with a metallic tool {1}. Rouen Mayor Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol said that “an armed individual somehow climbed up the synagogue and threw an object, a sort of Molotov cocktail, into the main prayer room” {2}. Reporting suggests that the synagogue was significantly damaged {3}. Two separate investigations into an arson attack on a place of worship and into the use of a police weapon outside the building remain ongoing {4}. The motive of the attack remains unclear.

Event Assessment

    • It is likely that the threat posed to members of the Jewish community has increased as a result of the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict. Reports of antisemitic incidents in the UK reached a record high in 2023. The Community Security Trust (CST) recorded reports of 4,103 anti-Jewish hate incidents in 2023, compared to 1,662 in 2022. Two-thirds of incidents happened after the 07 October attacks on Israel {5}. It is likely that the threat posed to members of the Jewish community will remain heightened in at least the short term.
      • It is almost certain that terrorist actors would have the intent to conduct an attack against synagogues in the UK, as highly visible and publicly accessible symbols of the Jewish faith. For further assessment on the threat posed to synagogues in the UK, see Pool Re’s Sector Threat Assessment here.
        •  Terrorist actors have previously demonstrated the intent to conduct attacks against synagogues in the UK, including:
          • 2024 – Sussex – An Extreme Right-Wing terrorist was convicted of terrorism offences for plotting to conduct an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attack against worshippers at a synagogue in East Sussex. The individual had allegedly annotated diagrams of the synagogue on his phone and held “racist and white supremacist” views, which he planned to act on when the synagogue was most busy {6}{7}{8}.
          • 2020 – Durham – An Extreme Right-Wing terrorist was sentenced to six years and eight months in prison for plotting a terrorist attack in Durham. The individual reportedly researched explosives, listed potential targets, and tried to obtain a bomb-making chemical {9}. Reporting suggests that during his preparations, the individual researched a number of synagogues and plotted to conduct Fire as a Weapon attacks against them {10}.
        • The use of a Fire as a Weapon and Bladed Weapon in Rouen, France is consistent with recent UK terrorism threat trends, where ease of access to low sophistication methodologies has led to an increase in low sophistication attacks in the UK and overseas.
          • It is highly likely that any terrorist attack conducted in the UK at this time would be conducted by an individual or small cell using a low-sophistication methodology. E.g., Bladed or Blunt Force Weapons, Vehicle as a Weapon, Fire as a Weapon.
          Intelligence Cut-Off Date: 20 May 2024  

          PHIA Scale

          The “Probability Yardstick” (below) is a standardised instrument used to provide professional intelligence assessments. Judgements made using the yardstick are relative and reflect the analyst’s confidence in their findings and assessments.

            • Almost Certain: An event is assessed to have a greater than 90% chance of occurring.
            • Highly Likely: An event is assessed to have a 76% to 90% chance of occurring.
            • Likely: An event is assessed to have a 55% to 75% chance of occurring.
            • Realistic Possibility: An event is assessed to have a 40% to 54% chance of occurring.
            • Unlikely: An event is assessed to have a 25% to 39% chance of occurring.
            • Highly Unlikely: An event is assessed to have an 10% to 24% chance of occurring.
            • Remote Chance: An event is assessed to have a less than 10% chance of occurring.

            Time Spans

              • Short Term: 0 – 6 Months.
              • In the next 12 months.
              • Medium Term: 12 months – 5 Years.
              • Long Term: 5+ Years.

          Author: Oliver Hair ASyI,
          Threat Analyst

          Read Time: 3 minutes

          To receive regular updates about Terrorism Threat and Risk Management, please sign up to our newsletters now.