A man identified as Mevlut Mert Altintas holds up a gun after shooting Andrei Karlov, the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, at a photo gallery in Ankara, Turkey, Dec 19. AP

THE recent string of attacks in Germany, Switzerland, Turkey and Jordan are terrifying reminders of the world’s vulnerability to terrorism.

Commentators predict that more attacks will occur elsewhere, and wonder if domestic vigilance can fully protect citizens or dissuade every would-be terrorist, who is hell-bent on killing those in his path.

We still have a long way to go in the fight against extremism, they warn. The pre-Christmas attacks emphasise once again the despicable character of the attackers and underscore the wisdom of remaining on a high state of alert.

For, unless we are vigilant and eagle-eyed, we may not spot terrorists at the right time and defeat them.

Which country would be the next target? This is the question uppermost in people’s minds as they contemplate the Berlin Christmas market attack on Monday, which left 12 dead, and the shooting on the same day at an Islamic Centre in Zurich injuring three people and the assassination of Russian ambassador to Turkey in Ankara.

Ambassador Andrei Karlov was speaking at an exhibition when he was shot in the back eight times by an off-duty Turkish riot squad detective, who had shouted “Allahu Akbar” and “Don’t forget Aleppo”. According to news reports, he also chanted slogans associated with the al-Nusra Front, a former al-Qaeda affiliate that is among the most powerful anti-Assad forces in Syria.

Two Malaysians were among 34 injured in a shoot-out at Karak Castle in Jordan on Sunday, which killed 10 people, including a Canadian. These acts of violence are the latest in a wave of terror attacks in various parts of the world as it grapples with growing unrest spilling over from the civil war raging in Syria.

That the deadly strikes appear coordinated — although there is no suggestion of it — is unsettling and unnerving, and people in civilised societies throughout the world must brace themselves for escalating acts of violence in the run-up to the festive season. No one is safe anymore, and that is a scary feeling. There is no one specific panacea for international terrorism and its inherent complexity, but countries have to be on their guard continuously against new and emerging danger.

The increasing terrorist threat heightens the need for extreme vigilance everywhere — in Malaysia as well — as countries move to defeat their attackers.

Viewed against that backdrop, it is baffling to learn why the Malaysian authorities had allowed four foreigners, who were among seven men arrested between Nov 3 and Dec 16 on suspicion of involvement in terrorism, into the country.

The suspects, aged between 20 and 35, were captured in Selangor, Malacca, Johor and Sabah. How did they manage to get past border security checks? Were the Immigration officers sleeping at the time? The image of a young Turk in a black suit brandishing a weapon as the man he had just shot laid rigid close to him is likely to stay with us for a while.

We are obliged to take steps to prevent similar tragedies; terrorism will have to be decisively tackled.

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