Rescue workers tow the truck which ploughed into a crowded Christmas market in the German capital last night in Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016.
(photo credit: REUBEN BRAND)
Following Monday’s terrorist attack in Germany, what can the Germans and the rest of the West do better to prevent the next terror attack?
The first step is understanding the current heightened motivation of ISIS and other terrorists to hit the West, according to Meit Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center Director and IDF Intelligence Col. (res.) Reuven Ehrlich in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.
ISIS have claimed to have inspired the attack on the Christmas market.
A position paper that Ehrlich’s center sent out on Sunday said in bold letters, “ISIS can be expected to continue attempting attacks, especially during the upcoming holiday season.”
The position paper also specifically noted an ISIS publication about vehicular attacks from November 11 which appeared in English, French, German, Russian, Turkish, Turkmen, Indonesian and Pashtu. It said, “Vehicles are like knives, as they are extremely easy to acquire. But unlike knives, which if found in one’s possession can be a cause for suspicion, vehicles arouse absolutely no doubts due to their widespread use throughout the world.”
“Likewise, it is one of the safest and easiest weapons one could employ against the kufar [infidels], while being from amongst the most lethal methods of attack and the most successful in harvesting large numbers of the infidels. Large heavy trucks should be used because they can reach high speeds and lessen the chances for victims to escape,” the article continued.
Ehrlich said, “ISIS wants to change the subject from Mosul and its failures in Iraq and Syria.”
Besides those background issues, he emphasized that Germany needs “better prevention and intelligence. We see many Western countries and Russia have had many successes recently with preventive arrests.”
Ehrlich also added that “security on the ground needs to be better, especially around Christmas and New Year’s Eve, maybe they are not doing this well enough.”
Moreover, he called for improved cross-border cooperation and intelligence sharing between countries, noting a suspect in the crime may have killed a Polish driver and taken the Polish car to Germany.
Asked if Europe has found the proper balance of increasing security versus civil liberties, he said, “You cannot make security more rigorous without some infringement to human rights, but you do also need to keep the public’s faith. There is always a tension between these.”
Ehrlich referred to Israeli increased security at restaurants and in public areas which helped reduce suicide bombings during the Second Intifada, but also infringed on individual rights to some degree.
He rejected any connection between the attack and the phenomena of attacks as being directly connected to Europe’s relatively open policy on Middle East refugees, but said that even if there might be some connection, the current suspect “was from Pakistan or Afghanistan. ISIS can get refugees from any Muslim country, not just the Middle East and most of its supporters carrying out attacks are not necessarily refugees.”
Institute for National Security Studies terror expert and former counter terror adviser to the prime minister Yoram Schweitzer, said that Germany “should have closed off its big streets to trucks and that you should not wait until your country” is targeted to make security adjustments.
He noted a “wave of terror attacks” by ISIS or ISIS-inspired attackers in the West have shown the influence of those terror groups in the West.
Schweitzer also said employing a driver to use his truck as a weapon, as occurred here, was not new, noting a 1994 Thailand terrorist attack that used the same tactic.
Asked why Germany was being targeted (ISIS has mentioned targeting Germany, even if this current attack was not committed by the group) when it is not militarily involved in fighting ISIS, he said, “Germany is part of the West. Whether it supports the West logistically, or supports the West’s decisions regarding ISIS, ISIS sees the West as one big unit and seeks to destroy and strike the entire West.”