Over the last three years, France has suffered about twenty terrorist attacks carried out by thirty individuals, killing 241 and wounding 820 (1). In the meantime, 32 terrorist projects were foiled, including 13 in 2017 according to the French Ministry of the Interior (MININT).
“The human toll (…) is particularly high compared to the means used by the attackers. The psychological impact of these attacks on the populations is only stronger,” reads a summary delivered in November 2017 by the French Army Intelligence Training Center (CEERAT).
Even more worrying, “the likelihood of terrorists implementing much more sophisticated and destructive modes of action remains strong,” CEERAT insists.
Citing the Strategic and National Security Review presented to French President Emmanuel Macron in October 2017, the CEERAT reminds that “jihadist terrorism is undergoing a transformation phase that will not diminish the scope or danger for the coming decade”. Also, “the (Islamist) ideology that underlies it will not falter”.
Islamist terrorism is a phenomenon that is constantly evolving and is therefore difficult to predict in operational terms as there are many potential targets and enemy operatives. The Russo-Syrian offensive and the US-led coalition against the Islamic State (ISIS) in the Syrian-Iraqi area have diminished the external – exogenous – threat and thus the threat has become essentially internal – endogenous.
Against the backdrop, French military and intelligence agencies are concerned about the possibility of much more lethal future attacks, “Iraqi” Al Qaeda-like using car bombs inside a crowded city area or “Algerian” GIA-like offensive on suburban or even rural residential areas.
Among the “future risks” according to CEERAT have been included attacks on nuclear power plants, industrial sites, trains and forest fires, water pollution, mass killings in Churches, schools or hospitals: so many “soft targets” that require “to prepare permanently for the worst”.
According to Cyceon, the main information in this CEERAT document is threefold: first, the “war” on terrorism has become mainly internal, second, this “war” will last for another decade at least, third, the jihadist is mutating from crafted to a more sophisticated and potentially much more lethal modus operandi.
(1) Figures from November 2017.