Terror organisations including Islamic State are evolving their strategies to attack more soft targets, and may expand their repertoire to the use of car bombs in Europe, Europol has warned.
Islamic State is likely to launch more attacks in Europe as several dozen militants are known to be within the member states, while more may arrive as the jihadist group loses ground in Syria and Iraq, Europol has said in a report.
But whereas previous attacks have utilised firearms or explosives carried on the person, future attacks may adopt methods, such as car bombs, which have previously only been seen in the Middle East.
Islamic State is known to have deployed car bombs in the villages around Mosul over the last few months in a bid to hold the city against approaching Iraqi and Kurdish forces, while further afield the Islamic terror group al-Shabaab were able to slaughter 60 Kenyan peacekeeping troops at an African Union base in Somalia in January after using a car bomb to demolish an exterior wall.
There are indications that European based terrorists are already adopting the method: in September, French police arrested two suspects after a car containing several gas cylinders was found abandoned near the Notre Dame cathedral in central Paris.
Europol director Rob Wainwright said that the scale of the threat proved the need for greater collaboration between states in tackling terrorism.
“The last two years have seen a number of jihadist attacks, several of which have caused mass casualties,” he said. “The scale of this threat has been widely acknowledged in Europe, triggering an intensified cooperation between police and security services across the continent leading to an increase of arrests and plots foiled before terror attacks could be carried out.
“ Nevertheless today’s report shows that the threat is still high and includes diverse components which can be only tackled by even better collaboration.”
Gilles de Kerchove, EU Counter-terrorism Coordinator agreed, saying: “We have to be vigilant, since the threat posed by the so-called Islamic State (IS) and returning foreign fighters is likely to persist in the coming years. These people are trained to use explosives and firearms and they have been indoctrinated by the jihadist ideology.
“An effective response requires a comprehensive approach and long term commitment.”
The threat extended to all member states, the agency indicated, but protected sites such as power grids and nuclear power stations were not seen as top targets.
The warning comes just days after a Muslim student at Ohio State university rammed his car into passers-by and started attacking people with a knife, in an attack which Breitbart Jerusalem noted looked “looked eerily familiar to Israelis”.
The attack followed a prediction by Dr. Joshua Gleis, an international security consultant and political risk analyst, that there would be “a rise in mass stabbings and vehicle-rammings by those with Islamist leanings, because they see how effective such methods are in places like Israel.”