Berlin attack shows the "true democratisation of terrorist violence"

Dr John Lamb is a lecturer in criminology at Birmingham City University

Berlin attack shows the "true democratisation of terrorist violence"

People put down flowers near the crime scene in Berlin, Germany the day after a truck ran into a crowded Christmas market and killed several people | Image: Matthias Schrader AP/Press Association Images

One security expert says an attack at a Christmas market in Berlin, which left 12 people dead, has revealed a disturbing trend.

Dr John Lamb, a lecturer in criminology and security studies at Birmingham City University, says such attacks show "the true democratisation of terrorist violence".

While comparing the attack to a similar ISIS attack in Nice in which 84 people died, Dr Lamb told Newstalk.com: "What we seem to be seeing with ISIS is that ISIS has this ability to encourage people to carry out attacks of their own volition - so without any sort of central command and control.

"So the Nice attack, for example, appears to have been the work of an individual who decided to drive a truck through a crowded street and then carry out a further attack using an assault rife.

"The Berlin attack...actually points towards a change in that trend; in that maybe now we are seeing the true democratisation of terrorist violence, in that if you can have access to a vehicle and you can find a soft target - which Western cities tend to be full of - you can carry out your own act of violence on behalf of the group".

Dr Lamb also says this latest attack is not a new wave, but simply a continuation.

"Europe's been at a heightened state of alert pretty much since the Charlie Hebdo attacks...the latest attacks are merely a continuation of that trend.

"I wouldn't expect to see any threat levels - the gradings that governments use to rank how likely an attack is - to increase after this.

"I think it's more just a continuation of what we've seen already".

"Flirting with the new right"

But Dr Lamb says the Berlin attack will be used as justification from the 'new right'.

"Populations in Germany and in Britain has been flirting with the new right for several years now - you just have to look a the rise of Nigel Farage and Donald Trump to see that this shift to the right in politics is becoming more prevalent.

"Unfortunately the attack (in Berlin) will be used by people on the right as justification for further repressive measures, I imagine. This is something we should avoid.

"There's a reason why these attacks are coming from migrant individuals: if you are continually discriminated against and made to feel like a suspect within the country that you've come to for asylum, you are going to be much more vulnerable to radicalisers messages.

"And you're much more likely to turn to narratives that explain why you're being persecuted in a global scale.

"And ISIS gives some of those people that understanding and allows them to see themselves on one side of that divide, and then it makes it nice and clear for them about how they can get even: carry out an act of violence".

He also says he would "dismiss" reports that the Berlin attacker may be an immigrant as "almost irrelevant to the attack".

"For the police and the security services to be more alert is a good thing given that these are fairly easy soft targets.

"If you take any sort of generic German market: you walk in, you walk out, there is no security check - and we wouldn't stand for security checks as it would be an affront to the way that we live in the West.

"Therefore police are going to have to do other things - probably undercover officers, probably having armed response on a slightly higher readiness level.

"This is for our own protection, and it's something that we shouldn't be particularly worried about but that we are going to have to accept until this threat has lessened", he added.