Alarming features to Berlin terror attack add to woe of troubled world

EDITORIAL

While it is far from the worst atrocity of 2016, there is an extra bite to the truck attack in the centre of Berlin which has some features that are especially alarming.

The offender used one of the simplest methods possible, hijacking a truck and driving it into a crowded street. This followed a similar incident in July at Nice when a truck was driven into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day, killing 86.

Security experts will not be surprised by the latest outrage. Islamic State has been promoting this form of attack for some time. It included a three-page feature in the November issue of its online magazine explaining how to carry out such an attack. The attraction of this method is that it takes little organisation, manpower and technical knowledge as well as being desperately difficult to prevent.

As it continues to build vast areas of its so-called caliphate in Iraq and Syria, Islamic State has turned its attention to soft civilian targets in major cities, with the November 2015 attack in Paris and the Belgium ones in March.

The terrorists know they will get extra impetus with this latest attack, coming as it does so close to Christmas and in Berlin, considered a relatively safe city.

It creates a security headache. How to protect large gatherings of people without becoming overbearing? Extra video surveillance of events will mean a loss of privacy to some extent. The British press has already picked up on the presence of police carrying assault rifles, pistols and Tasers outside Canterbury Cathedral. Finding a balance between being prepared but not intrusive is a challenge.

It should not be forgotten that car bomb attacks have been commonplace this year throughout the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Africa, all of them aimed at defenceless crowds and often with a religious background.

As Christmas 2016 approaches it is a troubled globe we live in and the spirit of goodwill lying at the heart of this celebration is sadly missing in much of the world.

While it is far from the worst atrocity of 2016, there is an extra bite to the truck attack in the centre of Berlin which has some features that are especially alarming.

The offender used one of the simplest methods possible, hijacking a truck and driving it into a crowded street. This followed a similar incident in July at Nice when a truck was driven into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day, killing 86.

Security experts will not be surprised by the latest outrage. Islamic State has been promoting this form of attack for some time. It included a three-page feature in the November issue of its online magazine explaining how to carry out such an attack. The attraction of this method is that it takes little organisation, manpower and technical knowledge as well as being desperately difficult to prevent.

As it continues to build vast areas of its so-called caliphate in Iraq and Syria, Islamic State has turned its attention to soft civilian targets in major cities, with the November 2015 attack in Paris and the Belgium ones in March.

The terrorists know they will get extra impetus with this latest attack, coming as it does so close to Christmas and in Berlin, considered a relatively safe city.

It creates a security headache. How to protect large gatherings of people without becoming overbearing? Extra video surveillance of events will mean a loss of privacy to some extent. The British press has already picked up on the presence of police carrying assault rifles, pistols and Tasers outside Canterbury Cathedral. Finding a balance between being prepared but not intrusive is a challenge.

It should not be forgotten that car bomb attacks have been commonplace this year throughout the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Africa, all of them aimed at defenceless crowds and often with a religious background.

As Christmas 2016 approaches it is a troubled globe we live in and the spirit of goodwill lying at the heart of this celebration is sadly missing in much of the world.

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