ISIS has struck in Europe again. Yet with media attention focused on the terrorist attack in Orlando, it has gone somewhat under the radar.
Larossi Abballa stabbed to death a French policeman, Jean-Baptise Salvaing, outside his own home in Magnanville, France. He then went inside and stabbed his (as yet unnamed) partner to death.
The couple’s son, just three years old, was held hostage throughout. Abballa, who had already been jailed in 2013 for past terror offences, declared his loyalty to the Islamic State (ISIS) before police stormed the home and killed him.
Anyone who has opened a newspaper over the last 18 months will know that Islamist terrorist atrocities in France are now disturbingly common. The massacre in Paris last November, carried out by ISIS, was the most gruesome proof of this. Specifically, however, this type of crude attack on police officers is also depressingly common.
An audio message released on Sept. 21, 2014 from ISIS’ external operationsemir, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, implored ISIS’ Western supporters to “strike their police, security and intelligence members”. He called for the targeting of the US, Canada, Australia and Europe (particularly France), as well as “any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war.” Al-Adnani gave permission for the murders to take place “in any manner or way however it may be.”
It only took two days for someone to take up the call. Abdul Numan Haider stabbed two police officers outside their station in Melbourne, Australia. Haider, who Australian intelligence agencies suspected was planning to travel to Syria before having his passport cancelled, was shot and killed during his assault.
Bertrand Nzohbonayo would replicate this plot three months later in Joué-lès-Tours, France. He injured three police officers with a knife, before a fourth officer shot and killed him. Nzohabonayo had uploaded an ISIS flag to this Facebook account just before carrying out his assault.
The police was targeted again—twice—in Jan. 2016. In Philadelphia, Edward Archer shot and injured a police officer who was sat in his vehicle. Following his arrest, Archer pledged allegiance to ISIS. Just days later, Tarek Belgacem, a Tunisian carrying a meat cleaver and documents supportive of ISIS, attempted to storm a Parisian police station. He was shot and killed.
It is not just attacks carried out by individuals that see law enforcement targeted. They were also singled out for targeting as part of an ISIS cell that was disrupted in Verviers, Belgium, in Jan. 2015; and by an ISIS-inspired London cell, arrested in Sept. 2014, for planning drive by shootings. It should also be remembered that police officers were killed in both the AQAP-linked plot against Charlie Hebdo in Jan. 2015 and in Amedy Coulibaly’s ISIS-inspired murders shortly afterwards.
Such trends are very clearly unacceptable. Yet ISIS and those inspired by them still pose a grave danger to the law enforcement community and will likely do so for the foreseeable future. The only response of the US and its allies must be a redoubling of efforts to comprehensively defeat ISIS, al-Qaeda and the entire ideology that animates such groups.