We know too little about the massacre in the Christmas market in Charlottenburg in Berlin to say much definitively. We don’t know whether it was a spontaneous and individual action such as those that the Islamic State likes to conveniently claim a posteriori, or a more organized attack and part of an articulated strategy to target Germany systematically, as has already happened in France.
But certainly, those who carried out the attack followed a notoriously prescribed mode and suggested the involvement of caliphate leaders: the deadly use of normal vehicles. To date, Germany had been the scene of numerous alarms, considered sometimes even excessive, and any real attacks were the result of improvisation, if not a full-blown mental imbalance (such as the shootout in Bavaria, the most severe episode, which left nine victims). In short, the terrorist threat, at least those involving political and military planning, was considered quite low and under control.
But Dec. 20 has produced a shift, not only because of the devastating success of the attack in the heart of the German capital. Germany is indeed a very important target for terrorists. The logic of an attack there is more properly political than the essentially vindictive attacks on France for its military interventions in the Middle East and Africa (Paris has not participated in the bombings in Syria and Iraq).