The threat of Islamist extremism remains high in Europe, driven in part by radicalized individuals returning from fighting in Iraq and Syria. Religious extremist attacks in the EU will likely target the entertainment and hospitality sectors and public spaces frequented by tourists.
Although the frequency of attacks has fallen since 2017, extremists have been most active in France, Spain, and the UK, with vehicles, firearms, and knives the most prevalent weapons.
Right-wing extremism is on the rise and likely to gain ground in 2019 (see figure below), which will elevate operational risks for businesses and individuals.
In the UK, the assassination of Member of Parliament Jo Cox in 2016 and an attack on a north London mosque in 2017 by right-wing extremists are evidence of an elevated threat.
The absence of a single organizational structure makes it harder for security forces to detect ERW activity.
Key Terrorist actors in 2019
Islamist terrorism: lone wolf or small terrorist cells
Extreme right-wing groups
Dissident republican terrorist groups (Northern Ireland)
Which sectors are most exposed?
Public transport systems and hubs have often been deemed soft targets for terrorist activity in Europe.
In the last four years, indiscriminate, low-capability terrorist attacks have been carried out on commuter trains in France, Germany, and the Netherlands.
Retail and hospitality
These sectors may not be direct targets of terrorism, but the impact related to a potential blast radius poses risks.
Significant business interruption is possible during and after attacks that cause limited property damage, as police may enforce cordons over multiple days.
Public markets have been the subject of terrorist attacks in Germany and France over the last three years.