Up next, experts warn: “underage terrorists”
During the weekend, Germany’s attention was focused on a 12-yearold boy with Iraqi parents who allegedly had planned a nail bomb attack at a German Christmas market. He may have received instructions from the Islamic State, according to news reports that cited unnamed intelligence sources.
The story of Germany’s young terror suspect likely will disappear out of public focus amid the carnage a truck crash caused at a Christmas market in Berlin on Monday, leaving 12 people dead. But more than neighboring countries, the largest European nation recently has witnessed the emergence of a worrisome new type of militant attacker, according to experts: “underage terrorists.”
In February, 15-year-old Safia S. stabbed a police officer in an attack allegedly inspired by the Islamic State. In July, a 17-year-old Afghan refugee attacked several passengers on a train in Bavaria after pledging allegiance to the Islamic State. Last week’s apparent attempted nail bomb attack in Ludwigshafen easily could have caused injuries or deaths.
Experts argue that the three cases are evidence of a shifting profile of attacker. “Originally, ISIL focused mostly on young adults aged between 17 and 23 for the simple reason that they are unlikely to be government spies,” said Daniel Koehler, the director of the German Institute on Radicalization and DeRadicalization Studies, using an acronym for the Islamic State.
“But since the organization has taken heavy losses on the ground in Syria and Iraq and is losing territory, it has more and more changed its propaganda to trigger lone actor attacks by practically anyone willing to do it.”