London simply does not have the capacity to track all of the twenty-three thousand terror suspects that reside in the country.
At least twenty-nine people were injured when an improvised explosive device detonated on a London underground train during rush hour last week. None of those injuries is believed to be life-threatening. The device, though not a total dud, malfunctioned, failing to explode with the intended ferocity. The UK has—at least so far—caught a break.
Two men have been arrested in connection with the attack. British interior minister Amber Rudd has said that there is no evidence that the Islamic State (ISIS) played a role in the attack, but ISIS has claimed credit for it. Investigators have assessed it to be “highly likely” that the bomb contained TATP: the explosive dubbed “Mother of Satan” and associated with recent ISIS operations.
The use of explosives in the attack was unsurprising. Recently, those in the counterterrorism business have shifted more of their attention toward how terrorists are increasingly drawn to low-tech attacks that involve vehicles and knives. Yet my recent analysis, which encompasses all Islamist terror plots in Europe between January 2014 and May 2017, shows that explosives are still the most popular form of weapon for Islamists plotting in Europe.
Explosives were the weapon of choice in 28 percent of these 142 plots. The good news is that only six of the plots led to injuries or deaths. After all, it is harder for terrorists to acquire suitable material, avoid detection and possess the level of expertise required to build the device.