World On High Terror Alert Ahead Of New Year


By Ben Flanagan

Security measures have been tightened in global capitals ahead of Saturday night’s New Year celebrations, amid heightened fears after a spate of terror attacks.

Security experts said however the barricades, road closures and deployment of heavily armed police in many cities is more a show of force than an effective means to thwart an attack.

As the world ushers in 2017, security will be particularly tight in European cities, following the Daesh-linked truck attack in Berlin that killed 12 people.

Around 1,700 extra officers, some carrying sub-machine guns, along with armored cars and concrete barriers will be among the anti-terror measures in Berlin, Reuters reported.

“Every measure is being taken to prevent a possible attack,” Berlin police spokesman Thomas Neuendorf told Reuters TV.

Trucks have been banned from the centers of Rome and Naples, some 1,600 extra police will be out in force in Madrid, and extra surveillance cameras have been installed in Cologne in Western Germany, according to reports.

Other major global cities including New York, London and Sydney will also be increasing security measures.

But some cast doubt over the ability of officials to prevent against low-tech but fatal terror incidents such as the truck attack in Nice, France, on July 14, in which 86 people were killed.

Terrorism expert Lee Marsden, a professor at the University of East Anglia in the UK, said public concern was at a high following recent events in Europe.

But he said it was difficult to guard against the kind of terror attacks seen in Nice and Berlin.

“Now they’re just using cars and trucks to create as much mayhem as possible, people are getting understandably concerned about it. It’s very difficult for security forces to try to prevent any of these attacks,” Marsden told Arab News.

“These attacks have really thrown into question the ability of the state to protect its citizens. And therefore to try and reassure them they will have a massive show of force on the street. It doesn’t actually deal with the problem, but it will give people some reassurance no doubt.”

Marsden added, however, that the level of public fear was “out of all proportion” to the actual threat in many places.

“The chances of attacks are very very slight indeed,” he said.

Arab News

Arab News is Saudi Arabia's first English-language newspaper. It was founded in 1975 by Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafiz. Today, it is one of 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).

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