Three groups have now claimed responsibility for the bomb attack on Borussia Dortmund’s team bus on 11 April – most recently, a far-right group that opposes “multi-culturalism.”
Prior to this claim, letters supposedly from IS (ISIL/IS/Islamic State) had been found, taking responsibility for the explosions, but authorities had been doubtful of their authenticity.
A second claim was posted on a website, but was subsequently removed as its validity was also in question.
Why would there be false claims?
In the case of Dortmund, the letters supposedly from IS may have been an attempt to direct the focus of the investigation to Islamist groups and increase tensions, while also enabling the real perpetrators to cover their tracks.
There have been other incidents however, in which IS has claimed responsibility but the full motivation behind the attack remains unclear. The recent attack on Westminster was cited as an example in an article by The Independent, which pointed out that, “the claim’s lack of biographical information and specifics suggested Isis did not directly commission or facilitate the attack outside the Houses of Parliament.”
The Independent quoted experts who believe claiming responsibility for attacks such as Westminster is an effort “to disguise huge losses in Syria and Iraq” but while IS may not have ordered or planned the attack directly, it’s likely that there was some communication between the attacker and IS affiliates online. The report goes on to explain that many attackers “act on their own intuition” but would have been part of an online or offline extremist network in some way.
Is it a trend?
In the Global Terrorism Index 2016 report, the Institute for Economics and Peace revealed that half of all plots with an ISIL (Isis/IS/Islamic State) connection “have been conducted by people who have had no direct contact with ISIL.”
The report also mentions that in many “lone wolf” attacks said to be inspired by ISIL, there may be other factors involved. Media have made several mentions of lone attackers’ previous personal difficulties, including suicide attempts and domestic violence.
What does this mean?
We have all seen an increase in “lone wolf” attacks recently, particularly in destinations previously not considered to have a high risk of terrorism. While these incidents are no less tragic than large-scale attacks, they do result in fewer deaths and fewer casualties, and the attackers are usually apprehended swiftly.
Unfortunately, this type of attack is hard to predict, and in the short term, it means we need to be a little more cautious – both at home and abroad – and be prepared with the latest security information, as well as travel insurance that covers terrorism.
In the longer term, could those weaker links to claims of responsibility be a sign of a potential decrease in IS’s power? Perhaps they could, judging by the comments in The Independent mentioned above. If IS is “attempting to incite knife and car attacks as (its) capacity (has been) damaged by territory losses and security crackdowns,” could we see a decrease in attacks in the months and years to come? We can only hope…
At the end of the day, terrorism and claims of terrorism are intended to create fear, and whichever group is responsible – directly or indirectly – we refuse to live in fear.
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