Fears of Jihadi Terrorism

Questions for Central Europe after the Vienna Attack

17 November 2020

Asya Metodieva

Visegrad Insight Fellow

Central Europe had never been the target of a major terrorist attack, despite the rise of jihadism and the Islamic State elsewhere. While overall threat levels did not increase for the region, the Vienna attack shows the importance of understanding the profile of an attacker and the choice of target. Anti-terror measures may become more commonplace in the next years.

A series of shootings occurred on 2 November in the centre of Vienna. A gunman opened fire with a rifle, killed four civilians and injured 23 more.

The Vienna attack echoed throughout Central Europe with border checks launched by Czech police, arrests in Poland, political statements in Hungary and a trace to the perpetrator in Slovakia. There are at least two factors that magnified the response of countries in the region: the geographical proximity of the terror operation and the lack of information in the first hours after it.

Additionally, a jihadist attack in Central Europe is fitting the agenda of right-wing politicians such as Viktor Orbán who stated that Hungary is ready to do everything to save Europe from terrorist attacks. Known for pushing rhetoric on the “Islamisation of Europe” in recent years, the Hungarian government used the opportunity to once again send a political message in line with their rhetoric.

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Asya Metodieva

Visegrad Insight Fellow

Visegrad Insight Fellow. Asya Metodieva is a researcher at the Institute of International Relations Prague. She successfully defended her PhD at the Central European University (CEU), Vienna. Her research focuses on radical movements, polarization and information warfare with a focus on the Balkans and more generally Southeast Europe. She holds an MA in Public Policy from CEU and in International Relations and Security Studies from Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski. In 2019 she was a visiting PhD Candidate at the University of Oxford. She held the 2018 Sotirov Fellowship at LSE IDEAS and 2018 Re-think CEE Fellowship of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

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