Possible Terrorism Crises in Europe: The Year Ahead
Glenn Schoen CEO @Boadroom Crisis BV
Threat Forecast for Europe: Current Concerns to Continue
Terrorism trends in Europe have been dominated for the past several years by ISIS adherents. While legacy nationalist actors and rightwing extremists continue to generate concern – think Brexit and the murder of politicians in Germany and the UK –
the high casualties and impact of Sunni Jihadi extremists have carried the headlines since 2014-15. Using handguns, knives, improvised explosives and vehicles to strike mainly at public venues, transportation, events, and soldiers and police officers, this combination of organized cells and loners has become the threat of the moment.
While the past year, fortunately, saw a dip in activity, concern for more to come into 2019-2020 and beyond remains high among virtually all key policing and intelligence agencies engaged across Europe in addressing the threat. Core to their worries: ISIS may be defeated for now on the Middle-eastern battlefield, but its ideology, appeal and grievances live on, and the number of potential attackers that require watching across Europe is larger than ever before: well into the tens of thousands.
Terrorism: A Crisis Driver for Companies Too
Former British Prime Minister Edward Heath once observed that “acts of terrorism are always a potential crisis.” He meant to say terrorism is literally life and death drama; after an incident, there is always worry about more to come; it always leads to public, media and political concern and pressure; and often third parties with their own agenda seek to make matters even worse.
Companies, in a very different position than governments on this issue, have felt the impact from Paris to Brussels to London to Berlin too. Sometimes people and assets are directly hurt and damaged; much more often, it is the disruption that causes the pain. Threats, alerts, rumors, evacuations, counter-measures, trip cancellations, office closures, airport closures; new security demands, fear of taking a bus: the list is long.
Terrorism & Corporate Crisis Management: 6 steps
Crisis management is about mitigating risks and terrorism risks like most others can be generally categorized, analyzed, quantified, ranked and scored using a range of tools. Many firms do this and look in-depth at actual impacts, e.g. on people, key processes, assets (data!), key stakeholders, and brand/image. Many European governments help the private sector in all manner with this, from advice on preventive and reactive measures to offering structures to anchor their entire resilience programs.
That noted, and not just looking from a Duty of Care position, companies often fail to focus on key steps important in preparing for all terrorist threats. These include:
- Enabling the terrorism crisis ‘Key 6’
- Assuring the value of speed in (internal/key stakeholder) information processes
- Leveraging existing expertise on terrorism and crisis management
- Have a crisis plan that includes terrorist scenarios, and a process to use
- Being cognizant of and minding pitfalls (like not being able to generate good management information for your own leadership and government agencies)
- Stressing the value of preparing in a public-private stakeholder context
What are those terrorism crisis ‘Key 6’?
- Being able to assess a threat (or have it assessed for you), fast
- Being able to inform/instruct people something is happening
- Being able to alert/warn people of an acute danger on-site/nearby
- Being able to increase security at a facility, rapidly, according to a pre-set plan
- Being able to evacuate or lock down the premises
- Being able to (help) manage casualties.
Remember: aside from good people and a decent plan, solid, integrated tooling to drive your process is the single most determinant of successful crisis management performance. When it comes to terrorism risk, in Europe or anywhere else, having the right tooling to help you perform your ‘Key 6’ is critical. It literally saves lives.