Low-tech terror attacks like vehicle-ramming look set to rise: Analyst

A police officer stands guard near Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament on March 22, 2017 in London, England.
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A police officer stands guard near Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament on March 22, 2017 in London, England.

The terror attack which shook London last night followed a trend that is becoming all too familiar.

"Lower impact, less sophisticated but also less predictable" attacks such as vehicle-ramming are becoming "much more common in western Europe," Jonathan Wood, director of global risk analysis at Control Risks told CNBC's Squawk Box Thursday.

Last year saw similar attacks in Nice, where a lorry drove into crowds celebrating Bastille Day, and at a Berlin Christmas market last December.

Targeting crowds means that it "remains very difficult or impossible to defend against in many circumstances," Wood added.

In what is being labelled the most severe attack on U.K. soil since the London tube bombings in 2005, four people are known to have died in Wednesday's attack on Westminster, including the attacker. Addressing Parliament earlier Thursday, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May said that eight people had been arrested in police raids across the country.

Wood also pointed out that the scope of the threat is broadening, extending beyond western Europe and will rise in frequency in areas "that have been major sending regions to the conflict in Syria and Iraq. This includes for example south east Asia, parts of which have never historically or recently had a major terrorism threat."

Any uptick in violence has the potential cause more friction on a regional level.

Wood said that he also saw "the renewal of some regional and local terrorism threat actors as a result of this diaspora of foreign fighters." He added that "the environment is getting much more complicated and complex," aided by the mass incitement of extremist sentiments via social media.

The incident in the heart of the U.K. government took place on the one year anniversary of the Brussels airport bombing. Wood said that since the Paris attacks in 2015, Europe-wide efforts had been made to "improve and increase cross-border intelligence information sharing" though barriers "maybe aggravated by high-level political situations." With regards to monitoring returning foreign fighters, Wood explained that "capacity is an issue security intelligence-wise … in some smaller countries especially."

IHS' Senior Analyst Otso Iho at its Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Centre said in a note published Thursday that "future attacks are most likely to take similar form, being conducted by lone actors with limited capability."

It has been reported that Islamic State have claimed responsibility for the attack, though IHS point out that would "not be unusual for the (group) to claim an attack without being intricately involved in its execution."

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