As a reminder, 1 May marks the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden. Although there is as yet no public tangible evidence of plots against the West designed to take place over the coming period, the timing of the arrest of three suspects in Denmark is notable. The fact that two sets of arrests were made in the UK over the last period is also potentially relevant, although as we previously reported, there is as yet nothing to suggest that a plot was imminent or that it would be related to the anniversary.
Nonetheless, this anniversary will form an obvious point for attacks to avenge "Sheikh Osama" worldwide. Operations may be planned and are most likely to be successful in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and possibly Nigeria. While we consider that formal jihadist networks are consistently struggling to deliver effect in the West, due to the considerable capability of the security forces (as has been exemplified in recent arrests), lone wolves remain a constant threat that is harder to predict or counter.
In Denmark, the fact that the suspects were reportedly in possession of automatic weapons and a sizeable quantity of ammunition serves as a reminder of the potential threat from such tactics. Indeed, the trial of other jihadists accused of planning a similar assault is currently underway (which may well have been anther influencer on the timing of any plot). The success of active shooters in recent incidents, most notably in Norway and the south of France, will we assess continue to promote interest in this method. However, improvised explosive devices also remain popular, based on recent evidence, especially in countries such as the UK where ammunition is harder to come by.
Given all of the above, we suggest that security staff should maintain an increased state of vigilance around possible target areas over the period of the anniversary. Crowded places such as shopping centres and transport hubs are always at particularly risk from lone wolves. Those travelling abroad meanwhile should be aware of the increased risk of attacks over this period, particularly in the countries identified above, and take suitable precautions where appropriate.