Search
  • ctownsendeqc762

Holiday Advisory Report

Updated: Nov 28

Nicholas Fegreus, Dyuti Pandya, Tiffany Dove, Indirah Canzater, Beatrice Fratini, NORTHCOM Team; Jujhar Singh, Yechezkel Mehlman, Marco Parks, Filipe Neves, Akshat Sharma, Mohammad Ali, Alberto Suarez Sutil, Muskan Muskan, Shamsuddin Karimi, Sofia Pantoula, CENTCOM Team; Federica Calissano, Casey Mager, Iris Raith, Zarah Sheikh, EUCOM Team; Tiberius Hernandez, Halle Morel, Annabell Knapp, PACOM Team; Annabelle Hueber, Rebecca Pantani, Megan Proudfoot, Alexander Aurin, Weapons and Tactics Team; Beatriz Adell Quesada, Angeliki Siafaka, Diana Smith, Behavior/Leadership Team

Mimi Aram-Walker, Jason Bratcher, Sarah Bigalbal, Demetrios Giannakaris, Morgan Kennedy, Sachin Khunte, Editors; Cassandra Townsend, Clea Guastavino, Senior Editors; Jennifer Loy, Chief of Staff

Holiday[1]


Introduction


As we are approaching a period of time during which numerous holidays take place across the world relating to various different religions and traditions, we must be increasingly aware of how these events can be targeted by terrorists and extremists. Holiday and religious events have been targeted in the past due to their religious and historical significance but also as they tend to involve large crowds gathering which are often favorable to those intending to cause maximum harm. Using analysis of historical attacks and knowledge of terrorist behavior when selecting potential target locations, we have provided both regional and specialist analysis relating to possible target events across four key regions, the tactics that may be used, and behaviors to be wary of to prevent an attack occurring.


NORTHCOM


Criminal and extremist groups have often attempted to exploit holiday celebrations that bring together large gatherings of people. Annual holiday events that occur in the same location provide a known target that these groups will likely seek to take advantage of. They are also made vulnerable by the ease with which information can be gathered by prospective terrorists that enhances and improves their ability to inflict maximum damage. Other events that take place during the holiday season, such as increased shopping center traffic and family gatherings, offer similarly exposed targets for criminal and extremist groups to attack. Available public information, unintentionally or otherwise published, about informal gatherings related to the holidays have almost certainly contributed to terrorists' ability to target specific individuals or groups. The resumption of holiday events and gatherings following cancellations due to COVID-19 last year will likely draw increased attention from would-be attackers. These groups will likely seek out events that expect large crowds to attend now that restrictions are beginning to ease in many areas.


The nature of the terrorist threats and attacks against the US continues to evolve.[2] The rise in attacks being carried out during the holidays is likely to instill fear in some as individuals gather in public areas to celebrate. Extremist attacks during the holiday season have almost certainly occurred over the years due to mass gatherings. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and RAND experts have recognized that terrorist and extremist groups have always followed a pattern to coordinate their attacks with holidays.[3] The symbolic, cultural, and emotional impact an attack can have is another reason extremists continue to carry out attacks during the holiday season. Holiday attacks will generate media attention which highlights the political/religious motives of the attackers to the world at large, also increasing the likelihood of attacks during this time.


In 2016, the Islamic State (ISIS) urged its followers to attack US churches during the Christmas season and published the names and addresses of thousands of targets to be killed.[4] Several instances that highlight planned attacks during the holiday season suggest that terrorists and extremists will likely continue to innovate more ways to carry out their attacks. Al Qaeda and many other terrorist groups’ strategic focus have shifted towards Jewish and Christian targets in recent years.[5] The polarization that has grown between religions has likely prompted the emergence of attacks during the sacred holidays.


New York City’s (NYC) Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is back to its full performance on November 25, 2021, welcoming back spectators without COVID-19 restrictions.[6] This year’s projected attendance count is unclear, yet very likely to draw significant crowds as the pre-pandemic attendance estimates two to three million each year.[7] Last year’s banning of parade attendees and the availability of vaccinations is likely to increase the number of spectators present, which will increase the threat of terrorist and lone actor attacks. The parade’s celebrity performances likely elevate this threat due to the additional in-person and televised viewers they bring to the parade. The New York Police Department (NYPD) will manage the 2.5 mile parade route through Manhattan and have controlled entrances where backpacks, strollers, umbrellas, and large bags are screened.[8] This will likely decrease opportunities for improvised explosive device (IED) and lone actor attacks. The popular parade route location has many access points, likely increasing the vulnerability of this event. Street closures and barricades, searches, and highly visible tactical units will be implemented, which are very likely to mitigate opportunities for violent acts, including vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attacks.[9] However, the continued publicization of NYPD challenges, including an overworked and understaffed department, will likely incentivize threat actors to plan violent acts throughout the many upcoming NYC holiday celebrations.


During the holiday season, COVID-19 safety and regulation, as well as security within malls, are of high concern. Black Friday, November 26, 2021, is expected to have a higher in-person shopping turnout than 2020; however, COVID-19 transmission rates will likely reduce attendance overall.[10] As vaccination rates are rising within the NORTHCOM region and individuals are returning to shop in stores, it is likely that security concerns will increase.[11] Outdoor malls are likely to be attended more as they allow for social distancing. Indoor malls will likely be the areas of most concern during this time as the ability for security threats to arise will likely increase. Although security will also increase during this time, the ability for threats to be hidden in large crowds of people likely increases.


The Mall of America, located in Bloomington, Minnesota, US, will likely be a major place of concern during this time for the above factors.[12] Due to its size and status as a tourist destination, there are several security measures in place not seen in other shopping malls. These include an on-site police unit; child escort policy for lost children; strong collaborative relationships with the federal, state, and local police departments, and the continual use of drills and training exercises.[13] Physical violence and/or threats are more likely to occur here than at other shopping malls/areas but mitigation strategies will likely aid in combating these threats. Physical altercations and terrorist threats are high concerns during Black Friday and COVID-19 will likely still be an issue.


The New Year’s Eve Ball Drop is welcoming back vaccinated crowds, or those unvaccinated with masks, to Times Square this year with hundreds of thousands permitted to attend compared to the usual one million spectators.[14] For these reasons, along with its closure to the public last year, attendance will likely be significant this year.[15] Overt security checkpoints and counterterrorism overlays, including bomb-sniffing dogs, police helicopters, traffic barriers, radiation-detection teams, and presence of heavy-weapons squads are very likely to help detect and deter potential IED, VBIED, and lone actor threats.[16] The increase in online violent extremism rhetoric encouraging attacks, combined with this event’s COVID-19 safety restrictions, makes it likely for anti-authority/anti-government extremists to attack. Sealing manholes, prohibiting item discardance at checkpoints, and banning backpacks, personal drones, umbrellas, and readmission are measures that will very likely hinder attack capabilities.[17] The shoulder-to-shoulder layout, cold weather clothing and accessories, holiday attire, and masks almost certainly elevate threat detection difficulty. In 2018, the NYPD first used Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for security at this event, making it easier for them to quickly spot threats in the crowd.[18] It is likely the use of UAVs and counterterrorism boats will aid in mitigating prospective attacks, making any attempted attacks very unlikely to succeed. Further, covert, plainclothes police monitoring perceived threats through surveillance and reconnaissance will likely increase the ability for attacks to be thwarted.


Another area of concern lies in religious institutions throughout the NORTHCOM region. With several holidays coming up including Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s, religious institutions will likely be heavily visited until the start of 2022.[19] Terrorist threats against these locations have become prevalent throughout the NORTHCOM region following the rise of regional domestic extremism. Lone actor terrorism against minority groups such as African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, members of the Jewish community, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and women have increased from 2010-2020.[20] Threats against these communities will more likely come from domestic actors rather than foreign ones. With the incoming holiday season, religious communities are likely to see an increase in hate crimes and/or violence. Mass gatherings within religious institutions that were limited last year due to COVID-19 will likely rise as vaccination rates increase and restrictions continue to be relaxed in the NORTHCOM region.


While law enforcement and emergency responders in potentially targeted areas will almost certainly implement a layered security approach to large Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and religious events, attendees should continue to be cautious. Perpetrators are likely to use fake identification or impersonate law enforcement and authorized staff to access vulnerable locations and go undetected. The public should remain alert of surroundings and suspicious behavior. There will likely be extra routine deliveries in preparation for holiday events, therefore it will be important to watch for unauthorized individuals accessing restricted areas, monitoring (video and picture-taking) of potential targets, abandoned vehicles, unusual odors, nervous behavior, and suspicious packages left unattended. Individuals are advised to remain vigilant in the premises of worship locations, such as St. Patrick's Cathedral and Central Synagogue, both in NYC. When attending crowded events, such as the Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC, individuals should be made aware of primary exit routes and refuge locations in case of an attack.


CENTCOM


Afghanistan


On November 24, 2021, the Sikh community celebrated Guru Teg Bahadur's Martyrdom Day. The Sikh community are likely to celebrate after the official holiday, almost certainly making them a target for terrorist attacks in places of worship and large gatherings. This year a Gurdwara, the place of the worship for the Sikh religion, was ransacked in Kabul, indicating it is very likely the Sikh community is at risk of attack during their celebrations.[21] Sikhs should avoid large gatherings at Gurdwaras because they are very likely to become targeted locations for terrorist attacks. The Christian community is also advised to be on high alert, as attacks have previously been carried out during the Christmas period.[22] It is likely that the Christian community will be targeted during big gatherings taking place on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.


Israel/Gaza/Palestine


Hanukkah will be celebrated from November 29 until December 6, 2021. Individuals are very likely to attend public gatherings where menorah candles are lit, which will likely make them targets for attacks. Attacks have occurred during Hanukkah in the past: in 2018, Hamas shot a bus in the settlement of Ofra in the West Bank,[23] and in 2017, security services disrupted a kidnapping plan by Hamas to abduct an Israeli soldier or settler.[24] Soldiers on leave should be instructed in surveillance detection techniques and stay vigilant as they are likely to be targets of terrorist attacks. Security should also be reinforced in places where social gatherings are likely to happen. Settlements in the West Bank should be vigilant to avoid terrorist attacks.


Christmas will be celebrated by the Christian community in the West Bank. The COVID-19 pandemic has prevented pilgrims from traveling to the area to celebrate, and with curfews in place the West Bank is very unlikely to attract tourists.[25] This year the trend is likely to continue despite Israel's decision to open its borders to vaccinated tourists.[26] Tourists who arrive during the holiday season are advised to follow COVID-19 protocols in Israel and the West Bank. Tourists should remain aware that they are entering an area where clashes between Israelis and Palestinians are likely to happen. It is advised to avoid areas where Palestinians are protesting, such as Jerusalem's Old City where it is very likely that clashes will occur.


Jordan


Despite being a Muslim-majority country, Christmas is a national holiday in Jordan. Pilgrims and other citizens will likely visit holy sites in the country and attend celebratory events. No major attacks on the Christian population have occurred in recent years, but pilgrims should remain vigilant at all times as there is a roughly even chance they will become targets considering they are often targets of terrorist groups in the region. December 18, 2021 also marks the fifth anniversary of the Al-Karak terrorist attack, in which 14 people died.[27] Security measures should be reinforced, particularly in police stations and tourist areas, since ISIS targeted these locations during the Al-Karak attack. Although the group lost its territory in the Middle East in the last few years, it remains active in the region, including in Jordan, and citizens should be vigilant of any suspicious behavior and report it to law enforcement authorities.[28]


Lebanon


Lebanese Christian communities celebrating Christmas are advised to stay on high alert for likely attacks, as recent clashes between Hezbollah and Lebanese Armed Forces have reignited sectarian tensions between the Shia and Maronite communities.[29] Attacks are likely to occur in Beirut’s predominantly Shia Chiyah and Christian Ain el-Rumaneh neighborhoods. Further conflicts are likely to expand to other areas in Beirut, such as Dahieh, further destabilizing the country and jeopardizing the Taif Agreement, which ended the Lebanese Civil War in 1989.[30] All civilians and government personnel should stay on high alert when near or attending any Christian holiday gatherings.


Syria


Right before and during the holidays, ISIS often intensifies its propaganda campaign.[31] ISIS has previously claimed responsibility for Christmas market attacks in Germany, France, and the US between 2015 and 2016.[32] Given that ISIS’ prominence has decreased since these attacks, attacks in its base countries, Syria and Iraq, are more likely.[33] Commonly targeted religious and ethnic groups such as Christians and Yazidis should be on high alert for a possible ISIS attack. Christian churches are very likely to be targeted during midnight communion on December 24, where Christian communities will gather to celebrate the Eve of the Nativity. Yazidi temples are likely to be targeted during prayers to Malak Taus, which take place five times a day, making them ideal targets for ISIS attacks.

Kurdistan Flag Day was declared by the Kurdish Parliament on December 17, 2004, and has since been celebrated annually by Kurds to commemorate the struggle for Kurdish Independence.[34] Kurdish nationalist celebrations are likely to provoke conflict in the Turkish occupation zone of Northern Syria. Syrian government forces are also advised to monitor the Syrian-Turkish border as Flag Day ceremonies are likely to instigate confrontation between Kurdish separatists and the Syrian government forces.


Iraq


The Christmas practices in Iraq are back in full service since being stopped by ISIS during its occupation of Iraq from 2014 to 2017. Although Christians comprise 6% of the Iraqi population, festive celebrations will likely draw large crowds, including Muslim Iraqis, as the country resumes daily life with a reduced ISIS threat.[35] No previous attacks have been conducted during Christmas, but ISIS is still active and has attacked churches in the past, increasing the likelihood of attacks. Iraq will celebrate victory day on December 10, 2021 as it commemorates the end of the three-year war with ISIS. People are likely to hold celebrations to mark the occasion, as it is a national holiday declared by the government. It is likely that ISIS members and/or supporters will launch sporadic, semi-coordinated attacks during the holiday season for increased psychological impact. It is unlikely the attacks will cause long-lasting damage to the country. However, a string of successful attacks would likely provide a moral and symbolic victory for ISIS supporters.


Bahrain


Bahrain will celebrate its National Day and Independence Day on December 16 and December 17, 2021, respectively. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the 2011 Bahraini uprising and small groups of people will likely protest against the regime, the imprisonment of political prisoners, and the discrimination against the Shia community. The repression of protesters on National Day and Independence Day will likely attract media attention. Expatriates should avoid going to areas where protests are likely to happen.


Oman


Omani National Day will be celebrated on November 28 and 29, 2021. Oman has a Global Terrorism Index score of 0.00.[36] This makes it very unlikely that the country will experience a terrorist attack. However, Oman is located north of the Strait of Hormuz, where naval tensions between Iran, Israel and the US are high, and west of Yemen, which is currently experiencing a civil war. While it is very unlikely that Oman will experience a terrorist attack, being surrounded by areas of conflict likely encourages security to be on alert. Locals and expatriates are advised to be alert of suspicious behaviors and report such incidents to local authorities.


Yemen


On November 30, 2021, Yemen will celebrate its Independence Day. Independence Day celebrations will likely be targeted by the Houthis, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and ISIS, as the symbolic day provides significant potential for expansive political and psychological effects. Attacks are likely to include car bombs, as this tactic was recently used in Aden, killing 18 civilians.[37] All civilians are advised to proceed with extreme caution when attending Independence Day celebrations. Considering the recent October 10, 2021 attack on Aden governor Ahmed Lamlas, Yemeni authorities are advised to remain on high alert and reinforce all security personnel.[38]


Qatar


The State of Qatar celebrates its National Day on December 18, 2021.[39] Events hosted by the government will almost certainly be highly attended, including the National Path event, which is celebrated during the National Day in the presence of the Emir, ministers, dignitaries, and regular people.[40] Despite not having any terrorist attacks in the past 15 years, such a celebration could likely be a target for terrorist groups. Security should be reinforced in most areas where National Day events will occur since those events could likely be a target. Citizens and tourists should report any suspicious behavior or activity to authorities.


United Arab Emirates


The UAE celebrates Commemoration Day on November 30, 2021, two days before the two-day UAE National Day holidays.[41] Celebrations are likely to be held on the streets during the holiday weekend. No attacks have been conducted during this holiday weekend in the past. However, the Iraqi pro-Muqawama commentator Ahmad Abdussada accused the UAE of tampering with the Iraqi election and claimed that the UAE would witness drone and missile attacks from Iraq.[42] An attack is unlikely to occur given that none were executed during the 2020 EXPO, a cultural and societal exchange involving 195 countries, and because the Muqawama has little capability to carry out such an attack. However, locals and security forces should be on alert for any suspicious behavior.


Central Asia


Kazakhstan celebrates its Independence Day on December 16 and December 17, 2021. Public gatherings, processions, and annual Astana celebrations will very likely raise security concerns because they will likely draw large crowds. The recent energy shortage crisis in Kazakhstan can very likely lead to public unrest and protests. Turkmenistan observes ceremonies, parades, and concerts on December 12, 2021 for Neutrality Day and such large gatherings at places like Ashgabat are likely targets for terror attacks. New Year celebrations in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, attract international travelers to mini carnivals and holiday villages which are likely targets for terrorist groups. Although the likelihood of terrorist attacks is low, law enforcement should be vigilant during large gatherings.


Pakistan


Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other Islamist extremist groups have targeted religious minorities several times around holidays in Pakistan.[43] Christians, who comprise less than 2% of the country's population, have been previously targeted during Christmas.[44] In December 2020, security forces stopped a possible attack and arrested four terrorists associated with Lashkar-e-Islam in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.[45] In 2019, a mob attacked Christians for constructing a church in Punjab and a suicide bomb attack was carried out in a church in Baluchistan in 2017.[46] It is very likely that Christians in Pakistan will be at risk of attack during the upcoming holidays. Apart from the Christian community, the Sikh community is also very likely at risk of attack. One of the community’s most revered sites, Gurdwara Janam Asthan, was attacked two days before Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti celebrations on January 5, 2020.[47] Religious minorities in Pakistan are advised to avoid gathering at their respective places of worship and if they do, to remain on high alert.


Iran


January 3, 2022 will mark two years since US strikes killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force. This anniversary will likely lead to retaliatory action from Iran and very likely target American personnel in the Middle East. Last year, the US embassy in Iraq was targeted by Iranian-backed rockets in the same time frame.[48] US personnel in Syria and Iraq are very likely to be targeted by Iran-backed personnel who are also stationed in these countries. Terror attacks have previously been carried out by Iranian Sunni militias against Shia processions, such as the Chahabar Suicide Bombing in December 2010.[49] Traditional Shia mourning processions like Fāṭimīyya (Martyrdom Of Hazrat Fatimah) observed on January 7, 2022 will likely be targets for Sunni militia groups. Terror attacks can very likely be carried out on busy public sites like the Holy Shrine of Imam al-Rida in Mashhad, and the Holy Shrine of Lady Fatima al-Ma'suma in Qom.


EUCOM

Christmas markets are a well-established tradition in European cities that will likely attract large crowds with a roughly even chance of becoming targets of terrorist attacks.[50] Early evenings and weekends are very likely the busiest times for markets. Germany hosts many Christmas markets, especially in large cities like Berlin and Cologne, traditionally starting four weeks before Christmas Day and in recent years, some have remained open until December 30 to attract more visitors.[51] While this attraction has not seen major threats in the last decades, the 2016 ISIS-motivated terrorist attack on Berlin’s major public square, Breitscheidplatz, where 12 people died and 56 were injured, triggered increased security measures at Christmas markets in recent years.[52] The perpetrator, Anis Amri, who was later killed by Iaw enforcement, very likely carried out the attack due to his rejected asylum application in Germany.[53] His actions are unlikely to be attributed to anti-Christian sentiments but resentment towards the German government, suggesting that motives surrounding possible attacks during the holiday season are very likely to be diverse. While Christmas markets are usually crowded throughout December, the current increase in COVID-19 infections will likely decrease attendance at famous markets, such as the one in Munich, and Hamburg has decided to require full vaccination, likely further impacting attendance.[54] Other German cities will very likely implement similar measures. Fewer people will likely be in city centers, which will likely decrease the risk of terrorist attacks aiming for many casualties.


France also hosts Christmas markets, especially in the Alsace region on the German-French border; the biggest market in the area, the Strasbourg Christmas market, is scheduled to run from November 26 to December 26, 2021.[55] Strasbourg was also a terrorist target when an ISIS-influenced lone actor shot and killed five people at the city’s Christmas market in December 2018.[56] Since then, security measures have increased given the continuous threat of terrorist attacks in France. In addition to COVID-19-related measures, such as wearing face masks and social distancing, the city of Strasbourg has announced some of this year’s security regulations, including checkpoints for cars, greater traffic control of cyclists and pedestrians, and randomized personal item searches.[57] Given the announcement of these measures, it is very likely French authorities are anticipating terrorist attacks during the holiday season.


November 19, 2021 marks the opening of London’s Winter Wonderland, an annual Christmas-themed amusement park in Hyde Park. In 2019, over three million people visited the month-and-a-half-long attraction.[58] Consequently, thousands of tourists and citizens will almost certainly attend daily. Since the event takes place in the large park, some security checkpoints are present at the event’s main entrances, but organizers are leaving almost all secondary entrances unattended.[59] Due to high attendance, security checks will likely not be rigorous enough to prevent long lines, which likely increase the odds of an unattended bag not being caught. There is a roughly even chance that this event will be the target of terrorist attacks driven by theological motives, as it celebrates the Christian Christmas holiday. Security checkpoints and law enforcement’s presence inside the park should be increased for better monitoring of suspicious behaviors. Citizens should remain alert and vigilant, reporting suspicious behaviors or objects to security officers.


The holiday of Saint Nicholas is celebrated on December 6 in many European countries, attracting large crowds on the streets and in churches. In Belgium and the Netherlands, Saint Nicholas (“Sinterklaas” in the Netherlands and Belgium) traditionally arrives by boat two weeks before December 6, with many children and parents waiting at the harbor. During the weekends leading to Saint Nicholas Day, he parades through towns and cities to distribute sweets among the crowds. Due to rising COVID-19 infections, the Netherlands decided to cancel the traditional arrival of Saint Nicholas this year and transmit it instead on live TV on November 13, 2021.[60] Cities like Delft, in the Netherlands, have also announced that the processions at the end of November will be live-streamed on TV to avoid people crowding the streets.[61] Although COVID-19 measures have been implemented, it is likely people will still gather on weekends leading up to December 5, 2021 to await the Saint Nicholas procession. There is also a roughly even chance that individuals will neglect prevention measures and proceed to distribute sweets in towns in the Netherlands. It is recommended the general public avoid crowded areas and stay vigilant around large gatherings.


Saint Nicholas is celebrated on December 6 in Orthodox Christian countries such as Greece, Cyprus, and Bulgaria, with gatherings expected to take place in churches across the countries.[62] Serbia, Russia, and Ukraine follow the Julian calendar and celebrate Saint Nicholas on December 19.[63] These States still have a high number of religious citizens who will almost certainly attend church on Saint Nicholas Day. It is therefore likely that lone actors will carry out attacks with a roughly even chance of being religiously motivated. Church attendees are recommended to remain vigilant during mass service and, if possible, avoid crowded indoor locations including churches.

December 25 represents the most important religious day in the Christian calendar, Christmas Day, and is a national holiday in all Christian European countries.[64] Traditionally, Christmas Day starts with midnight communion services and with multiple Christian church services throughout the day.[65] Thousands of people will almost certainly attend these services in Christianity-dominated European cities. Compared to 2020, higher numbers of individuals will very likely attend these services, likely due to decreased COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. There is a roughly even chance that the administrations of some European countries, such as Italy or Austria, will only allow fully vaccinated visitors to enter the communion services, or will decide to move the services outdoors. There is a roughly even chance that these services could become targets of religiously-driven terrorist attacks. It is recommended that the general public stay vigilant and that security forces monitor any suspicious behavior around churches.


Most European countries will celebrate New Year's Eve on the night between December 31, 2021 and January 1, 2022, while some countries, such as Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine, will celebrate on January 13, 2022 according to the Julian calendar.[66] Millions of people across Europe will gather in public spaces and in the main squares of European cities to celebrate the new year.[67] In London, the famous riverside New Year's Eve fireworks will be replaced by a celebration in Trafalgar Square with live music, which has attracted more than 100,000 people in previous years, and is likely to do so again this year.[68] Individuals are required to purchase a ticket to attend the event in Trafalgar Square, which will include stage performers and food stalls.[69] While ticketed events may make for a more controlled environment due to enhanced security measures, stage setups and food booths likely create more areas for perpetrators to hide weapons. Thousands will likely attend the event, with a roughly even chance that it will become a target for terrorist attacks. People will almost certainly crowd in many European cities to celebrate the new year, likely representing a target for a potential terrorist attacks with the intent of causing a high number of casualties. It is highly recommended that the general public stay vigilant and avoid crowded spaces when possible. Law enforcement should enhance security checks by increasing the number of security checkpoints placed at events’ entrances, and checking individuals’ identities.


In cities with high tourist numbers, landmarks are likely targets of terrorist attacks who aim to kill and injure a large number of people. It is recommended the general public be alert of their surroundings, and security measures should be increased at landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the Brandenburger Tor in Berlin, or the London Eye. Given the polarized environment regarding its Muslim community, which is the largest in Europe, France is very likely to be a main attack target.[70] In light of the recently passed anti-separatism law, which favors neutrality of civil servants and has been criticized as promoting Islamophobia, anti-France and anti-West attacks are likely to occur by frustrated Muslim-French individuals.[71] It is recommended law enforcement monitor any surge of anti-France rhetoric online, and add security around major French landmarks and highly visited places during the holidays. On November 13, 2015, six coordinated attacks in Paris killed 130 people; the attacks were claimed by ISIS the following day.[72] These attacks, as well as instances of Islamophobia since, have almost certainly generated an environment where both anti-France and anti-Muslim attacks are likely to occur, targeting holiday markets, religious services, or other venues.[73]


Throughout the EUCOM region, crowded areas are very likely targets of possible terrorist attacks, such as the above-mentioned Christmas markets and various holiday festivities. In addition to churches, synagogues in European cities could likely be targets of anti-Semitic attacks during Hannukah, which will take place from November 28, 2021 to December 6, 2021. Jewish citizens are recommended to remain attentive at all times outside and within synagogues and, if possible, avoid religious gatherings altogether to increase their safety.


The holiday season will almost certainly attract a high number of customers to shopping malls and centrally-located shopping streets, such as Harrods in London, Galeries Lafayette in Paris, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, or the Rue Neuve and Avenue Louise in Brussels. The high concentration of individuals is very likely to increase the likelihood of attacks. Perpetrators who aim to hurt or kill as many individuals as possible will almost certainly choose these busy locations as their targets. It is recommended that shopping malls and stores in shopping streets increase their security staff and carry out regular bag checks at the entrance of their buildings. Shoppers are advised to remain vigilant and aware of their surroundings at all times during their shopping experience.

PACOM


The holiday season in Asia generally attracts large amounts of tourists from both within the region and around the world; 2021 is projected to be a continuation of this trend.[74] This influx of people, in conjunction with the large diversity of religion and cultural traditions in the region, will almost certainly result in a large number of people of different backgrounds in concentrated areas. There is a precedent for potential attacks targeted at those celebrating Christmas and the New Year, as in 2016, two separate bomb plots were uncovered in Jakarta, Indonesia.[75] While it is projected that tourism will be at slightly lower levels in Southeast Asia due to slow COVID-19 recovery, those who do travel should still be aware of the potential threat of terror attacks.[76] Specifically, existing cultural tensions could indicate that there is a roughly even chance that malicious actors may threaten the celebration of particular religious or cultural holidays that coincide with the winter tourism season.


Travelers to Vietnam face particular risks this holiday season, as there are additional risks posed by recent natural disasters. Vietnam is currently undergoing heavy flooding as a result of its rivers overflowing earlier and heavier than usual, displacing tens of thousands of citizens in the countryside.[77] While the Vietnamese countryside is generally not a popular tourist destination this time of year, it is very likely that displaced people will crowd into urban centers in order to find housing as well as employment, which is likely to attract more crime. Some major cities, including Ho Chi Minh City, are also susceptible to flooding.[78] In such an event, there is a roughly even chance that locals and tourists would be unable to escape a terror attack. Additionally, while Vietnam is a largely Buddhist nation, Christmas is still celebrated in a commercial manner with large markets and public displays, which have a roughly even chance of being targets of a terror attack due to their popularity.[79] These large seasonal celebrations and events are the primary sites of concern for terror attacks this holiday season.


While a small percentage of India’s population is Christian, Christmas has become a popular holiday to celebrate in larger cities such as New Delhi and Mumbai.[80] Shopping centers and other public spaces hosting Christmas-related festivities will almost certainly see a large number of individuals, which is likely to be an opportune time for an attack by the Pakistani terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Heightened tensions between Indian security forces and LeT over the control of Jammu and Kashmir will likely encourage LeT to carry out an attack. Mumbai has already been targeted by LeT in the past, including the 2008 attack which killed 174 people in several public spaces throughout the city.[81] It is advised that large public spaces increase the number of security personnel to account for the increased risk of an attack. In the coming weeks, Indian border security should watch for LeT members attempting to cross the Indian-Pakistan border illegally and monitor for individuals carrying weapons.


Christmas will be celebrated by the Philippines’ nearly 80% Catholic population this year.[82] Churches will almost certainly experience a high volume of attendees to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day masses, likely making them susceptible to an attack from Islamist militant groups looking to target large numbers of people. Previous attacks on churches during Christmas occurred in 2016 and 2019, and other attacks on churches have occurred during other times of the year.[83] Churches located on the southern islands of Mindanao, Sulu, and Palawan will very likely be targeted for attacks since many Islamist militant groups reside on those islands and previous Christmas attacks occurred there.[84] If an attack does occur, it is likely to be carried out by members from either the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), Ansar al-Khalifa Philippines (AKP), or the Maute Group since they are the Philippines’ most active Islamist militant groups. In the event of an attack, it is likely that these militant groups will use an explosive device via car or via personnel. Filipino security forces and police should monitor churches and other Christmas-related events that draw large gatherings for any signs of potential attacks on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.


Throughout Asia, the Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year is celebrated and tends to be one of the most important festivals of the year; the 2022 Lunar New Year is on February 1.[85] With more countries opening up and celebrations being limited in both 2020 and 2021, 2022’s Lunar New Year celebrations are likely to attract people globally. Lunar New Year celebrations have been targeted before; the US embassy in Beijing issued an alert in 2015 due to reports of a possible terrorist attack in Kunming, Yunnan.[86] With countries beginning to resume normal holiday celebrations, this increases the likelihood of attacks during the New Year holiday because large events not previously possible are once again being hosted. This poses a security threat due to the large gathering of people in one area even as countries evaluate security protocols, but independent of security these events will also likely lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases. Lunar New Year celebrations were the first to be shut down due to COVID-19 in 2020 when there were 900 cases reported globally.[87] However, many festivals continued and became COVID-19 hotspots.[88] This is likely to happen again unless health regulations are followed strictly. It is recommended that those travelling to the region follow public health protocols, including masking and social distancing.


Weapons/Tactics


It is likely that terrorist organizations will attempt to attack mass gatherings during the holiday season in order to maximize their impact and fatality. Such attacks are also almost certainly meant to maximize the psychological impact on the public, given the symbolic importance of various holidays.[89] In the US, this holiday season is likely very vulnerable, facing both external and domestic threats. It is likely that a foreign terrorist organization will seek to capitalize on the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. As this year is the 20th anniversary of 9/11, it is likely that terrorists will attempt another attack for symbolic reasons. It is recommended that during the holiday season, law enforcement should be heightened for sites of historical, cultural, and popular importance to prevent the possibility of a significant terrorist attack. Holiday mass gatherings are likely to create similar societal damage if attacked. Moreover, religious celebrations, in particular Christian and Jewish celebrations, could be targeted by Islamist terrorist organizations. Physical protection or security for major places of worship is strongly advised, especially in larger cities.


As COVID-19 restrictions continue, it is likely that domestic extremists with anti-government beliefs will target government or public health officials or facilities to express their disregard for implemented measures. Public discontent will likely be enhanced this holiday season; because of this, it is likely that a larger number of people will gather to protest, in a condition for which violence is likely to escalate quickly. This behavior can be already seen largely in Europe where protests have escalated in different countries, particularly in Austria where the government instituted a lockdown this week.[90] It is likely hard to prevent protests from happening, but law enforcement should be prepared and ready to avoid their escalation into riots. It is recommended to increase the number of law enforcement officers on the streets and to prepare a management plan in advance in case of riots.


It is likely that terrorists will use digital space to plan these attacks and spread their tactics. It is likely that they will do this to spread their ideologies and inspire others to commit similar attacks. Particular attention should be given to social media which still represents one of the largest carriers of extremist propaganda.[91] To combat the use of social media for propaganda, security personnel and law enforcement should monitor online spaces for specific plans and warning signs of radicalized individuals. It is advised to closely monitor profiles of well-known radicalized and extremist individuals that represent a “guide” for their groups, and to try to detect possible attacks and threats to public security.


It is very likely that many people will be travelling by airplane, train, bus, or car to go home for the holidays. This almost certainly will increase vulnerabilities in airports, train stations, and transportation services since they present possibilities for terrorists to target large crowds. Transportation that does not have security controls set into place are likely at high risk since they lack security implementations. Increased surveillance is necessary in travelling hubs to detect potential violent individuals planning an attack. Law enforcement on the ground and in surveillance centers must report any suspicious individuals boarding transportation methods to avoid potential casualties. Individuals travelling should also remain watchful and aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious activities.


Terrorist attacks could likely also be seen in retail stores and shopping malls as people start their holiday shopping. It is very likely that terrorists and violent individuals will exploit large groups of people to carry out suicide bombings or mass shootings. The number of security personnel must increase to increase the safety of individuals visiting these locations. Collaboration between law enforcement and private security officials working at these types of locations will almost certainly increase the efficiency of security measures. To avoid mass gatherings at malls, holiday events organized at these locations should be limited. It is likely that recommendations set by the government to minimize in store shopping will decrease the risk of potential casualties.


On Thanksgiving in 2016 there was a large police presence in the Macy’s Day Parade in New York due to ISIS telling its supporters in the US to rent trucks and attack the parade.[92] Large gatherings such as the Macy’s Day Parade throughout the holiday season are very likely to be vulnerable to terrorist attacks, including IEDs placed at predetermined locations or worn by suicide bombers, car bombs, small arms, or vehicular ramming tactics. To combat these tactics, security personnel and law enforcement should be present at mass holiday gatherings in large quantities, routinely checking for pre-placed IEDs and for suspicious-looking individuals that may be carrying bombs or guns. They should also place vehicular barriers around dedicated areas where the mass gatherings will be held, in order to prevent rammings.


Behavior/Leadership


Potential attackers are likely to exhibit a deterioration of mental stability and increased violent outbursts and aggressive behavior. The festive season is likely to trigger anxiety and depression as about 64% of individuals living with a mental illness feel that their conditions deteriorate during the holidays.[93] Considering that most lone actor terrorists suffer from mood disorders, depression, and have previously exhibited aggressive behavior, the holidays are likely to act as a stressor, increasing the risk of violence among high-risk individuals.[94] As the holiday season in western countries is associated with socializing and spending time with family and friends, this time of the year is likely to magnify feelings of loneliness for people experiencing social exclusion or not partaking in popular religious celebrations, likely leading to feelings of resentment. This is likely to increase alcohol and substance misuse, which, in turn, is likely to exacerbate existing mental health problems. These conditions are likely to increase desperation, reducing individuals’ ability to cope with increased stress and potentially leading them to use violence. Potential attackers likely consider violence a last resort to communicate their emotional pain, despair, and resentment which will likely lead them to express personal grievances or communicate a threat openly. They are likely to isolate themselves further, resulting in increased online time and possibly dependence on virtual communities.


Potential attackers are very likely to have a psychological preoccupation with past attacks and idolize attackers that became notorious for the death toll they achieved. One of the most common motives for attackers and lone actor terrorists is to achieve fame.[95] Terrorist groups, lone actors, and mass shooters are very likely to want the publicity and notoriety that an attack during the holidays can give them. Potential attackers are very likely to select locations that have a symbolic value for the targeted population or crowded locations during the festive season, such as Christmas markets and shopping malls. These targets likely allow them the opportunity to increase the lethality of the attack, enabling them to receive greater media coverage. Potential attackers motivated by a need for notoriety are likely to entertain violent fantasies that drive them to intricately prepare for an attack. Preparations will likely include extensive research, weapons purchases, and both physical and virtual walkthroughs.


Mahdi Mohamud, who stabbed three people in a terror attack at Manchester’s Victoria railway station in England on New Year’s Eve, 2018, created documents detailing the schedule and plan of his attack and described it as a “simple, unpredictable, steadfast” attack.[96] It is very likely that potential attackers will research and plan to prepare for their attack as most attacks are pre-planned, resulting from the perpetrators’ organized mentality and behavior.[97] Popular celebrations, such as Christmas and New Year’s Eve, likely provide predictable scenarios that offer the potential attacker the opportunity to plan an attack accurately. The holidays facilitate attackers’ ability to scout popular and easily accessible locations, such as shopping malls and Christmas markets. The perpetrator of the mass shooting that killed 39 people at the Reina nightclub in Ortakoy, Istanbul, on January 1, 2017, Abdulkadir Masharipov, initially planned an attack at Taksim Square in Istanbul; however, after surveilling the location, he chose to attack the Reina nightclub because of the lack of security.[98] Potential attackers are very likely to surveil their targets and analyze the security measures in place leading up to their attack. After researching and planning their attack, they will likely select soft targets due to the lack of security measures. Potential attackers are likely to exhibit a fascination with past attacks and their perpetrators as they try to study their actions and learn from them in preparation for their attack.


About 23% of lone offender terrorists are inspired by racially-motivated violent extremism.[99] Grafton Thomas stabbed five people with a machete during Hanukkah celebrations at a rabbi’s house in Monsey, New York, US, on December 28, 2018.[100] The targeting of religious celebrations such as Christmas or Hanukkah likely indicates resentment or anger towards a religious group. This resentment is likely to be driven by intolerant and hateful ideologies. After the attack at Manchester’s Victoria railway station on New Year’s Eve, 2018, Mahdi Mohamud told police officers that “this is what happens, this is for revenge retaliation [against] people who kill Muslims, it will carry on forever.”[101] It is very likely that potential attackers will seek religious or political justification for planned targeted violence. They are very likely to advocate and encourage political or religious violence prior to the attack, likely dehumanizing people who belong in the targeted identity group. Potential attackers are very likely to exhibit a fixation with a cause, a group of people, or possible targets, which is likely to be apparent through their online searches and activities or a change in their vocabulary and style of speech. They are likely to praise and identify with other terrorists who committed attacks for the same ideological and political cause. Potential attackers are likely to try to recruit other people from their religious or political group or seek help in obtaining weapons or access to the target, and they will likely meet with these people in the days prior to the attack to finalize details.


Potential attackers are very likely to “leak” information about their attack in the lead-up to it. In December 2018, Chérif Chekatt killed five people, wounded 11 others, and was later killed in a shootout with French police.[102] Prior to the attack, he told his mother that he had the intention to die.[103] Anis Amri spoke about committing attacks prior to his December 2016 attack several times in the presence of others who supported terrorism, and in doing so acquired support from his network.[104] This follows a larger trend and in a study, 85% of 111 examined lone actors “leaked” details of their attack prior to its occurrence.[105] In the days preceding an attack, “leakage” is likely to be driven by a desire to recruit individuals for tactical or emotional support. In the hours before their attack, perpetrators' excitement or nerves about the imminent crime could also likely drive them to unintentionally “leak” details of their prospective attack to friends and family. As the holidays bring people together, it is likely that there will be greater opportunities for social and familial interactions. This is likely to give prospective terrorists additional opportunities to “leak” information about a prospective attack. In the case of self-secluded individuals, a greater reliance on the virtual community over the holiday season could likely offer greater opportunities for online “leakage.” It is important that people pay attention to the possibility of “leakage” episodes, and that they inform law enforcement if they think they may have witnessed one.


The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) is the leading intelligence, security, and investigations company in the world. We are resourceful, innovative problem-solvers that are always on your side against terrorists, or other people intending to do harm to your situations that require something different. Our team of professionals has over 20-years of experience analyzing intelligence data gathering information on terrorists where others have failed. We also use our know-how for anticipating developments in terrorist attacks by using human asset reports to collect vital intel before it happens so you don't get caught without a plan. To find out more about our products and services visit us at counterterrorismgroup.com.

[1]Holiday” by Marco Verch Professional Photographer licensed under Creative Commons

[2] “Terrorist plots against the US,” RAND Corporation, 2015, https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/working_papers/WR1100/WR1113/RAND_WR1113.pdf

[3] ISIS turns to lone wolves for Christmas attacks as caliphate crumbles, The Hill, November 2017, https://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/362399-isis-turns-to-lone-wolves-for-holiday-attacks-as-caliphate-crumbles

[4] ISIL issues hit list of U.S. churches for holiday attacks, USA today, December 2016, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2016/12/22/islamic-state-urges-attacks-us-churches-during-holidays/95746982/

[5] Assessing the Terrorist Threat: A Report of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s National Security Preparedness Group, Bipartisan Policy Center, September 2010, https://bipartisanpolicy.org/report/assessing-terrorist-threat/

[6] Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Returns to Pre-Pandemic Form This Year, NBC New York, November 2021, https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/macys-thanksgiving-day-parade-to-return-to-pre-pandemic-form-this-year/3368218/

[7] You Can Once Again Watch The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade In Person This Year, NPR, September 2021, https://www.npr.org/2021/09/08/1035133207/macys-thanksgiving-day-parade-returns-crowds-pandemic?t=1637303207918

[8] Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2021 to return to its pre-pandemic form. Here's what to know, USA Today, November 2021, https://www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/tv/2021/11/01/macys-thanksgiving-day-parade-2021-fully-back-after-covid-restriction/6231902001/

[9] “Planning And Managing Security For Major Special Events: Guidelines for Law Enforcement,” US Department of Justice, 2007, https://www.hsdl.org/?view&did=482649

[10] The Evolution of Black Friday Shopping- and What 2021 May Bring, NBC News, September 2021, https://www.nbcnews.com/select/shopping/evolution-black-friday-ncna1278024

[11] Canada’s Vaccination Rate Overtakes US, BBC, July 2021, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-57869947

[12] About Mall of America, Mall of America, n.d., https://www.mallofamerica.com/

[13] Mall of America Security, Mall of America, n.d., https://www.mallofamerica.com/security

[14] New Year’s Eve Ball Drop Back In-Person In Times Square; Guests Must Show Proof Of Vaccination, CBS New York, November 2021, https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2021/11/16/new-years-eve-back-in-person-in-times-square/

[15] Ibid

[16] Everything we know about the drones watching over Times Square on New Year’s Eve, Quartz, December 2019, https://qz.com/1777469/what-we-know-about-the-drones-watching-times-square-on-new-years-eve/

[17] Drones will watch over Times Square during New Year’s Eve ball drop — a security first, USA Today, December 2019, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/12/31/new-years-eve-times-square-ball-drop-drone-security/2781848001/

[18] Ibid

[19] Major 2021 Daily Holiday Calendar, Holiday Insights, n.d., https://www.holidayinsights.com/everyday.htm

[20] The Rise of Domestic Extremism in America, The Washington Post, April 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/interactive/2021/domestic-terrorism-data/

[21] Afghanistan Sikhs to ‘make choice between converting to Islam or leaving country’: Report, The Economic Times, October 2021, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/world-news/afghanistans-sikhs-to-make-choice-between-converting-to-islam-or-leaving-country-report/articleshow/87204174.cms

[22] Death toll in Christmas Eve attack in Afghanistan rises to 43, Evening Standard, December 2018, https://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/death-toll-in-christmas-eve-attack-in-afghanistan-rises-to-43-a4025231.html

[23] Manhunt for terrorists who shot a Ofra bus stop, injuring 7, enters second day, The Times of Israel, November 2018, https://www.timesofisrael.com/manhunt-for-terrorists-who-shot-at-ofra-bus-stop-injuring-7-enters-second-day/

[24] Israel foils Hamas kidnapping plot planned for Hanukkah, The Times of Israel, December 2017, https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-foils-hamas-kidnapping-plot-planned-for-hanukkah/

[25] ‘Bethlehem is dead’: Pandemic robs West Bank city of Christmas cheer, The Times of Israel, December 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/bethlehem-is-dead-pandemic-robs-west-bank-city-of-christmas-cheer/

[26] Christmas in Bethlehem: Gilded treasures but few tourists, Associated Press, November 2021, https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-travel-lifestyle-health-holidays-f1db556fecbde016c39d5479d1fa97a5

[27] Death toll in Karak attacks rises to 14, including four terrorists, The Jordan Times, December 2016, https://www.jordantimes.com/news/local/death-toll-karak-attacks-rises-14-including-four-terrorists

[28] Timeline: the Rise, Spread, and Fall of the Islamic State, Wilson Center, October 2019, https://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/timeline-the-rise-spread-and-fall-the-islamic-state

[29] Armed clashes erupt near Beirut protest against blast probe judge, Al Jazeera, October 2021, https://www.aljazeera.com/gallery/2021/10/14/photos-armed-clashes-erupts-in-beirut-in-protest-against-blast-judge

[30] Taif Agreement, The United Nations Peacemaker, October 1989, https://peacemaker.un.org/lebanon-taifaccords89

[31] Potential ISIS Retaliation, Holiday Season Put Houses of Worship on Guard, Homeland Security Today, November 2019, https://www.hstoday.us/subject-matter-areas/counterterrorism/potential-isis-retaliation-holiday-season-put-houses-of-worship-on-guard/

[32] Berlin attack: So-called Islamic State claims responsibility, BBC, December 2016, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-38385961 Paris attacks: What happened on the night, BBC, December 2015, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34818994 Officials: San Bernardino shooters pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, Chicago Tribune, December 2015, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-san-bernardino-shooting-20151208-story.html

[33] Timeline: the Rise, Spread, and Fall of the Islamic State, Wilson Center, October 2019, https://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/timeline-the-rise-spread-and-fall-the-islamic-state

[34] Kurdish flag is a ‘symbol for the sacrifice of our nation’: PM Barzani, Rudaw, December 2020, https://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/171220202

[35] 'This year is special': Baghdad comes together to celebrate Christmas, Middle East Eye, December 2018 https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/year-special-baghdad-comes-together-celebrate-christmas

[36] “Global Terrorism Index [2020],” Institute for Economics & Peace, 2020, https://www.visionofhumanity.org/maps/global-terrorism-index/#/

[37] Car bomb near Yemen's Aden airport kills at least a dozen civilians, France 24, October 2021, https://www.france24.com/en/middle-east/20211030-at-least-12-killed-in-blast-near-yemen-s-aden-airport

[38] Ibid

[39] National Day of Qatar: Great Moment In The Life Of The Country, Regency Holidays, September 2021 https://www.regencyholidays.com/blog/national-day-of-qatar/

[40] Ibid

[41]Commemoration Day in United Arab Emirates in 2021, Official Holidays, January 2021, https://www.officeholidays.com/holidays/uae/united-arab-emirates-martyrs-day

[42] Militias Issue Post-Election Threats Against UNAMI and the UAE, The Washington Institute, October 2021, https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/militias-issue-post-election-threats-against-unami-and-uae

[43] Pakistan's Sectarian Meltdown, The National Interest, July 2013, https://nationalinterest.org/commentary/pakistans-sectarian-meltdown-8802

[44] Why are Pakistan's Christians targeted?, BBC, October 2018, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-35910331

[45] 4 militants arrested in Peshawar, The News, December 2020, https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/761051-4-militants-arrested-in-peshawar

[46] Suicide bombers attack church in Pakistan's Quetta before Christmas, killing nine, Reuters, December 2017, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-attack-idUSKBN1EB08E

[47] Man accused of inciting attack on Nankana Sahib gurdwara arrested in Pakistan, The Tribune, January 2020, https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/man-accused-of-inciting-attack-on-nankana-sahib-gurdwara-arrested-in-pakistan-22292

[48] Eight rockets target US embassy in Baghdad: Iraq army, Al Jazeera, December 2020, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/12/20/iraqi-army-8-rockets-target-us-embassy-in-baghdad

[49] Iran suicide bombing: Chabahar mosque hit by attack, BBC, December 2010, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-11997679

[50] Christmas Markets will run approximately mid-November 2021 to beginning of January 2022.

[51] Eg: Weihnachtsmarkt in der City findet unter strengen Auflagen statt, Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt, November 2021, https://www.stuttgarter-weihnachtsmarkt.de/de/home/ (translated by Iris Raith)

[52] Germany admits failings one year after Berlin Christmas market attack, The Guardian, December 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/19/germany-admits-failings-one-year-after-berlin-christmas-market-attack

[53] Ibid

[54] Coronavirus digest: Unvaccinated banned from some German Christmas markets, Deutsche Welle, November 2021, https://www.dw.com/en/coronavirus-digest-unvaccinated-banned-from-some-german-christmas-markets/a-59840928

[55] Noël à Strasbourg, Strasbourg, November 2021, https://noel.strasbourg.eu/ (translated by Iris Raith)

[56] Strasbourg Christmas market reopens one year after deadly terror attack, Euronews, November 2019, https://www.euronews.com/2019/11/23/strasbourg-christmas-market-reopens-one-year-after-deadly-terror-attack

[57] Marché de Noël de Strasbourg : pas de checkpoints systématiques, mais des contrôles aléatoires et un protocole sanitaire évolutif, France 3, November 2021, https://france3-regions.francetvinfo.fr/grand-est/bas-rhin/strasbourg-0/marche-de-noel-de-strasbourg-pas-de-checkpoints-des-controles-aleatoires-et-un-protocole-sanitaire-evolutif-2319430.html (translated by Iris Raith)

[58] Hyde Park Winter Wonderland 2020 cancelled as coronavirus repercussions continue, Evening Standard, September 2020, https://www.standard.co.uk/reveller/attractions/hyde-park-winter-wonderland-2020-cancelled-a4538356.html

[59] Safety, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, November 202​​1, https://hydeparkwinterwonderland.com/safety/

[60] Sinterklaas: Entry ~ Amsterdam, the Netherlands Mid-November, St. Nicholas Center, November 2021, https://www.stnicholascenter.org/around-the-world/festivals/amsterdam-arrival

[61] Delftse Sinterklaasintocht 2021, In de Buurt, November 2021, https://indebuurt.nl/delft/agenda/delftse-sinterklaasintocht-2021~141026/ (translated by Iris Raith)

[62] Customs Around the World, St. Nicholas Center, n.d., https://www.stnicholascenter.org/around-the-world/customs

[63] Ibid

[64] Ways of Christian living, BBC, n.d., https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/z63pfcw/revision/5

[65] What is Christmas?, BBC, n.d., https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/topics/ztkxpv4/articles/zdjjf4j

[66] Why Russia, Romania and 14 other countries celebrate Christmas on January 7, Evening Standard, January 2017, https://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/london-life/happy-christmas-if-you-re-in-russia-greece-or-any-of-the-other-14-countries-celebrating-today-a3150756.html

[67] In Pictures: New Year 2019 celebrations around the world, BBC, January 2019, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-46723634

[68] London New Year fireworks replaced by Trafalgar Square event, BBC, November 2021, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-59343732

[69] Ibid

[70] France’s lower house approves anti-separatism bill to battle Islamist extremism, France 24, July 2021, https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20210723-france-s-lower-house-approves-separatism-law-to-battle-islamist-extremism

[71] Ibid

[72] November 2015 attacks: A timeline of the night that shook the French capital, France 24, September 2021, https://www.france24.com/en/france/20210908-paris-november-2015-attacks-a-timeline-of-the-night-that-shook-the-city

[73] AP Explains: Why France sparks such anger in Muslim world, Associated Press, October 2020, https://apnews.com/article/boycotts-paris-middle-east-western-europe-france-ee594f94f34f4d7e04d12a60b67eacc1

[74] Asia tourism reopens with big-spending Chinese stuck at home, Reuters, November 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/asia-tourism-reopens-with-big-spending-chinese-stuck-home-2021-11-03/

[75] Southeast Asia on Christmas alert after foiled bomb plots, Reuters, December 2016, https://www.reuters.com/article/asia-security-holidays/southeast-asia-on-christmas-alert-after-foiled-bomb-plots-idUKL4N1EI1N5

[76] Southeast Asia Reopening, But Tourists are Scarce, The Street, November 2021, https://www.thestreet.com/investing/southeast-asia-reopening-but-tourists-are-scarce

[77] 1 dead, thousands displaced due to floods in Vietnam, La Prensa Latina Media, October 2021, https://www.laprensalatina.com/1-dead-thousands-displaced-due-to-floods-in-vietnam/

[78] Ibid

[79] Christmas in Vietnam, Vietnam Discovery, December 2019, https://vietnamdiscovery.com/culture-arts/christmas-in-vietnam/

[80] Christmas in India: The Best Places to Celebrate It, tripsavvy, December 2020, https://www.tripsavvy.com/where-to-celebrate-christmas-in-india-1539236

[81]Mumbai terrorist attacks of 2008, Britannica, November 2021, https://www.britannica.com/event/Mumbai-terrorist-attacks-of-2008

[82] Religion in the Philippines, Asia Society, n.d., https://asiasociety.org/education/religion-philippines

[83] Terrorist violence on Christmas eve: attack in front of the Cathedral, Agenzia Fides, December 2019, http://www.fides.org/en/news/67169-ASIA_PHILIPPINES_Terrorist_violence_on_Christmas_eve_attack_in_front_of_the_Cathedral

[84] Philippine communist rebels reject Christmas truce, Reuters, December 2009, https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSMAN74951

[85] The Lunar New Year: Rituals and Legends, Asia for Educators, n.d., http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/special/china_general_lunar.htm

[86] US embassy issues alert after report of Lunar New Year terror plot in Kunming, South China Morning Post, Febuary 2015,https://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1714340/us-embassy-issues-alert-after-report-lunar-new-year-terror-plot-kunming

[87] The Coronavirus' Impact on the Lunar New Year, US News, January 2020, https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/articles/2020-01-24/the-coronavirus-impact-on-the-lunar-new-year

[88] Beijing Braces For Coronavirus Cases As Lunar Holiday Ends, National Public Radio, February 2020, https://choice.npr.org/index.html?origin=https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/02/06/802257287/beijing-braces-for-coronavirus-cases-as-lunar-holiday-ends?t=1637784693642

[89] Preparing for the Psychological Consequences of Terrorism: A Public Health Strategy, National Academies Press (US), 2003, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK221638/

[90] Tens of thousands protest in Vienna against Austria’s Covid restrictions, The Guardian, November 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/nov/20/austria-covid-restrictions-vienna-protests

[91] ISIS 'still evading detection on Facebook', report says, BBC, July 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-53389657

[92] ISIS Singles Out Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade as 'Excellent' Attack Target, NBC News, November 2016, https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/isis-terror/isis-singles-out-macy-s-thanksgiving-day-parade-excellent-attack-n684456

[93] McLean’s Guide to Managing Mental Health Around the Holidays, McLean Hospital, n.d., https://www.mcleanhospital.org/essential/mcleans-guide-managing-mental-health-around-holidays

[94] “Lone Offender: A Study Of Lone Offender Terrorism In The United States (1972-2015),” National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, 2019, https://www.fbi.gov/file-repository/lone-offender-terrorism-report-111319.pdf/view

[95] “Protective Intelligence and Threat Assessment Investigations: A Guide for State and Local Law Enforcement Officials,” U.S. Department of Justice, 2000, https://www.hsdl.org/?abstract&did=773604

[96] Manchester Victoria stabbing: Man who launched New Year's Eve attack detained for life in psychiatric hospital, The Independent, November 2019, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/manchester-terror-attack-man-jailed-psychiatric-victoria-stabbing-isis-a9219931.html

[97] “Protective Intelligence and Threat Assessment Investigations: A Guide for State and Local Law Enforcement Officials,” U.S. Department of Justice, 2000, https://www.hsdl.org/?abstract&did=773604

[98] The Reina Nightclub Attack and the Islamic State Threat to Turkey, Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, March 2017, https://ctc.usma.edu/the-reina-nightclub-attack-and-the-islamic-state-threat-to-turkey/

[99] “Lone Offender: A Study Of Lone Offender Terrorism In The United States (1972-2015),” National Ce