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Jelle van Buuren discusses the threat of terrorist attacks in Europe in Dutch newspaper Parool

As a result of two attacks in Germany and one attack in France within only one week, fears of new terrorist attacks in Europe have reignited. In France a radicalised police agent stabbed and killed four people. In Germany a man from Syria drove his car into a line of cars wounding sixteen people and Stefan B. opened fire near a synagogue and a kebab restaurant, killing two people in the process.

Jelle van Buuren, Assistant Professor at Leiden University's Institute of Security and Global Affairs cautions against jumping to conclusions. 'Extremist ideologies continue to exist. It would be foolish to assume they have disappeared when there hasn't been an attack for six months.

Lone Wolves

'Initially it seems that in all three cases the men operated alone. These men are often referred to as Lone Wolves. But, says Van Buuren, in many cases, perpetrators are often wrongly perceived as operating on their own. 'Where at first it appeared to be the work of a loner, it turns out that in a lot cases other people were actually involved too. Take for instance the attack on the Christmas market in Berlin in 2016. Police investigations have revealed that Anis Amri received help from outside.'


It is often difficult to say for certain what motivates someone to commit an attack because a lot of times the perpetrator is killed in the process, which is what happened with Stefan B. An eruption of pent up rage could be a possibility or psychological problems could play a role, as was the case in the attack perpetrated by Gökmen T. in Utrecht. According to Van Buuren the fixation on a possible motivation only polarises the issue and does not contribute to understanding the problem; psychological problems simply do not exclude radical thoughts and vice versa.

You can read the full article (in Dutch) on the website of newspaper 'Het Parool’.

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