After a string of recent cases in Europe and across the world, ‘lone wolf’ attacks have been identified as one of the most worrying terrorism trends today.
Is Europe safe from lone wolf terrorism? Our focus in this edition of On The Frontline.
Terror attacks in Europe
Last year, an estimated 12,500 people died as a result of terror attacks carried out by extremists groups.
But the massacre of 77 people in Norway last year by gunman Anders Behring Breivik highlighted the threat of ‘lone wolf’ terrorism.
Alain Bauer, a criminology researcher, describes a lone wolves as “isolated individuals, that engage themselves alone, without any command or logistical support.”
Behring said he wanted to stop the spread of Islam across Europe and opposed what he saw as Norway’s lax, pro-multicultural immigration policies.
But he prepared to kill without any assistance from extremist groups, planning the attack for years alone.
Bauer says this is strategy that recognised militant groups may look to emulate.
“They are relatively effective because they have a certain time, they don’t leave too many traces and they oblige authorities to use a huge amount of investigation resources. Also, above all, the lack of connection with the exterior makes much harder for intelligence and investigation services to identify them,” he told euronews.
Guido Steinberg, a terrorism expert with the German Institute For International and Security Affair, argues that Breivik could serve “as a model” for other extremists.
“He was a lot more successful than Al-Qaeda, and most of its attack or attempts to attack in Europe in years,” he said.