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Why Jihadist Attacks Have Declined in Europe

And Why Europe Shouldn’t Get Comfortable Yet

French Gendarmes in Strasbourg after last week's attack, December 2018. Vincent Kessler / Reuters

On Tuesday, December 11, just before 8 PM, a lone attacker, Cherif Chekatt, armed with a handgun and a knife, killed five people and injured a dozen others who were visiting the famous Christmas market in front of the Strasbourg Cathedral. Chekatt was wounded in an exchange of fire with counterterrorism forces but initially escaped. Two days later, a patrol spotted him on a street close to where he grew up, a few miles away from the Cathedral, and shot him dead. The Islamic State (ISIS) quickly issued a press release praising Chekatt as a “soldier,” but what role, if any, ISIS had in the attack is uncertain.

Chekatt was a drug dealer and a petty criminal, and had been on France’s extremist watch list since 2008, when he had put up a poster of former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in his prison cell. French authorities will likely be criticized

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