Euronews reporter Nial O’Reilly spoke to Jonathan Wood who leads Control Risks’ analysis of transnational terrorism.
Nial O’Reilly:“The Westminster attack raises profound questions about Europe’s ability to defend itself from such terrorist assaults. Joining us now is Jonathan Wood, a terrorism expert with the consultancy Control Risks.
Mr Wood, as we record this there are reports of similar kind of attack in Antwerp, Belgium. We don’t have the details, but do these crude, but deadly attacks suggest that extremists now have a reduced capacity to carry out large scale bomb and gun attacks as we’ve seen in Paris and elsewhere?”
Jonathan Wood: “It doesn’t necessarily indicate they no longer have the capability to mount those attacks. It does seem indicate they have pursued a strategy of attacking softer, less well defended targets, public spaces, crowded places, open access areas, for which these less sophisticated lower-tech attack methods are suitable. We firmly expect that this particular threat will continue over the course of this year and we maybe seeing, to some degree, a rise of these vehicle ramming incidents.”
Nial O’Reilly “Well you have described them a soft targets, but
It’s extremely difficult for authorities to prevent such simple, horrific attacks. Does that mean that citizens in major European cities have to learn to live with this fear or can more be done?”
Jonathan Wood “It’s really very difficult to defend and prevent against these type of incidents in public places, there are simply many more targets that are amenable to attack than there are places that are feasible to defend. In this case, of course, and vehicle ramming incidents more generally in any public space..any anti-vehicle measures or other physical security protections will simply deter or deflect those types of incidents to other locations.
That said we have seen countries and cities in the wake of these types of incidents introduce
security measures around specific events or around specific locations that are deemed to be higher risk targets to mitigate the threat of this kind of attack.”
Nial O’Reilly: “Are European authorities getting better at cooperation and intelligence sharing or is there still much to be done to prevent these kind of things?”
Jonathan Wood “It’s fair to say that the potential for more foreign fighters to return to western Europe from Syrian and Iraq will further strain those limited resources and force prioitisation among threats and make it very difficult for security forces to systematically and comprehensively monitor all potential targets all of the time.”
Mr Wood thank you for your analysis