Western Authorities Anticipate Christmas Market Terror Attacks
Back in August after the terror attack in Barcelona that killed 15 people and injured 131 more in the La Rambla downtown tourist area, I noted here at PJ Media that Islamic vehicle-ramming terror attacks were literally remaking the face of Europe and America.
Here in the U.S., just a month after the terror attack in Manhattan that killed 8 and injured 11, and nearly a year after the vehicle-ramming attack at Ohio State University that injured 11, homeland security officials are also preparing for possible terror attacks.
But gift-wrapping traffic bollards and painting concrete barriers to look like Legos barely conceal the new grim reality.
In Germany, which saw an attack last year on the Berlin Christmas market that killed 12 and injured 40 by an illegal Tunisian immigrant who was scheduled for deportation and who was already known to intelligence officials, traffic bollards are going up everywhere.
Deutsche Welle reports:
Bochum authorities placed a string of 1.2 ton pellet bags in the downtown area to avert potential terror attacks ahead of the seasonal opening of the local Christmas market.
On Thursday morning, however, the bags took on a holiday look, with the city's official marketing service turning them into novelty Christmas presents.
"For us it was very important to fit in those ugly barriers into the beautiful overall atmosphere," said the head of Bochum Marketing Mario Schiefelbein.
The move surprised both local residents and the police, as the service reportedly giftwrapped up all of the 20 bags overnight without forewarning [...]
Bochum is not the only city to put a bow on new security measures. In the Bavarian city of Augsburg, for example, authorities will use decorated trucks belonging to Christmas market stall owners as car barriers. Munich officials plan to block the streets with planters containing season-appropriate evergreen plants.
The first Christmas market in Berlin was opened earlier this month and is surrounded by concrete bollards and armed police:
And the site of the last year's terror attack in Berlin is also receiving new decorations:
But some in Berlin are not entirely satisfied with the level of security preparations, believing they don't go far enough:
In Hamburg, traffic bollards are being painted as Legos and stenciled with the hardly reassuring "more color, less fear" slogan:
Nuremberg is ramping up security for its Christmas market, too:
The UK saw two separate vehicle-ramming attacks this year in the heart of London, and authorities there are taking measures to increase security for holiday festivities.
Birmingham has one of the largest Christmas markets in the UK, and officials are trying to reassure citizens that they're not reacting to any specific threat but just acting out of general concern for public safety.
Officials elsewhere are somewhat more candid:
Large barriers have been installed in Bath city centre for the first time ahead of the Christmas Market.
More than 400,000 people are expected to visit the market which runs from 23 November until 10 December 2017.
The barriers alongside new and replacement bollards, installed over the last month, are designed to restrict access for vehicles, and make it safer for pedestrians to get around the city centre.
The so-called 'rings of steel' have been installed at festive markets across the country amid the increased terror threat.
Other cities in the UK are also stepping up security for this Christmas markets:
As in Germany, some UK cities are trying to mask the intent of the new security measures by adding a touch of holiday cheer.
In Paris, city officials cancelled their annual Christmas market on the iconic Champs-Elysées, which has seen two separate terror attacks already this year.
As I noted previously, ISIS supporters are openly encouraging more attacks during the holiday season this year.
In addition to the Berlin Christmas market attack, events last year give solid evidence to the reality of the terror threat.
Two of those injured in Berlin were from Texas:
Another attempted attack was a failed suicide bombing by a 12-year-old German-Iraqi boy at a Christmas market in Ludwigshafen:
As Germany was still reeling from the terror attack in Berlin, two brothers originally from Kosovo were arrested for planning an attack on the largest shopping mall in Germany:
Earlier this year I reported from Cairo on my exclusive visit to the site of the suicide bombing at the Coptic church directly beside the city's cathedral during Advent services. In all, 29 were killed in that terror attack -- all but one women and girls.
On Christmas Eve, two Christian men were killed and another injured in Baghdad by an Islamist assassin:
On Christmas Eve, a bomb exploded during services at a church in Mindanao, Philippines:
A bomb was left outside of a church in Toulouse:
And terror plots targeting Christmas festivities were stopped in Indonesia, Belgium and Austria:
Here in the U.S., an ISIS supporter in Arizona who had researched "midnight mass" during his preparations was arrested:
An advanced plot was also uncovered in Melbourne, Australia, involving several individuals planning a series of terror attacks across the city on Christmas Day.
In past years, we've seen various Christmas-related terror plots and attempted attacks going back to 2000 and the targeting of the Strasbourg Christmas market -- the largest and oldest in Europe running since 1570.
In Dec. 2010, Iraqi-born suicide bomber Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly prematurely detonated one of his explosive devices on his way to kill Christmas shoppers in downtown Stockholm, Sweden:
Just days before that attempted Swedish suicide bombing, Somali refugee Mohamed Mohamud attempted to detonate a bomb at the Nov. 26, 2010, Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon, for which he was sentenced to 30 years in prison:
And two years ago we saw the terror attack on an office Christmas party in San Bernardino, California, by husband and wife team Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik that killed 14 and injured 24.
So all the security precautions for holiday events this year are rooted in a long history of increasing threats and actual attacks, not unwarranted fear-mongering.
Cities around the world can gift wrap or otherwise spruce up security measures as much as they want, but that in no way diminishes the real terror threat that has now become an established part of the Christmas season.