Follow us on Twitter

Follow us on Facebook

Counter terrorism in EU ـ Increased threat of jihadist terrorist attacks

Nov 10, 2023 | Studies & Reports

European Centre for Counterterrorism and Intelligence Studies, Germany & Netherlands – ECCI

Europol: Increased threat of jihadist terrorist attacks, we’re in constant contact with Greece

greekcitytimes -With the manifestations of anti-Semitism increasing in the West recently, while the war in Gaza rages, Europol is warning about the risk of terrorist attacks across Europe.“There is an increased threat for jihadist attacks currently.,” Europol spokesman Jan Op Jen Orth told SKAI in particular.“We are in constant contact with all 27 member states, including Greece,” he added.

“It could be an indication that we might be at the beginning of a new series of different attacks, so we are vigilant,” underlined the representative of Europol.“Europol has guest officers in Greece, has guest officers also in Italy, that carry out secondary security checks, checking migrants who are considered suspicious by the national authorities,” he added.

Terrorism across Europe

The alarm in Europe has only intensified since the October 16 gun attack by Abdesalem Lassoued in Brussels, who plunged the city into chaos after shooting at passersby with an assault rifle, killing two Swedish football fans and wounding a third.The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the shooting spree, referring to Lassoued as an “Islamic State fighter.” But it’s unclear whether there was any direct communication between him and the terror group — or whether he’d received instructions.

And just three days prior to that, French authorities had raised the terror alert to its highest level, after a teacher was killed and two others were seriously injured in a knife attack at a school in northern France.The knife-wielding assailant had shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) during the assault.Then, on October 25, German authorities arrested a 29-year-old German-Egyptian national over a suspected plot to attack a pro-Israel demonstration. The man, who had previously served time in prison for being an IS member, was arrested after a tip-off from Morocco’s intelligence service.

However, again, it isn’t clear whether IS played any direct role in his plans, and so far, all signs indicate he was preparing to act on his own initiative.Meanwhile, according to El Mundo, Spain is currently tracking more than 300 potential lone wolves. And many of the attacks on French soil over the past few years have been carried out by assailants previously unknown to the country’s authorities.

Certainly, jihadist groups are taking advantage, whipping up a frenzy online, striving to inspire these lone wolves to go out hunting. Organizations monitoring online jihadist and Islamist activity have noted an uptick in calls for attacks on Jewish and Western targets since the October 7 assault by Hamas on southern Israel. And the Israel-Hamas conflict is now the main recurring theme in jihadist propaganda.“Every jihadist group is trying to leverage the Hamas situation,” said Veryan Khan of the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium.

And according to the nonprofit monitoring organization the Middle East Media Research Institute, between October 12 and October 17, leading al-Qaida supporter Sandar Al-Ghafiqi shared a sequence of three posters on the Rocket.Chat server operated by the group, calling for lone-wolf attacks to support jihad against Israel.

Then, on October 22, the pro-al-Qaida online group Jaysh al-Malahem claimed to have been behind a spate of bomb threats against eight French airports. In a statement, the group said the threats were part of their “electronic warfare” in response to Israel’s attacks on Gaza.Jaysh al-Malahem claimed to have sent over 100 false reports to emergency authorities in Berlin, Paris, Rome and Madrid, prompting airport evacuations and disrupting air travel.

Pro-IS groups have also been active in this time, praising the savage Hamas attacks and calling for action on European soil. On October 22, the pro-IS Tala’a al-Ansar Foundation released a video celebrating the Brussels shooting and urged its supporters to launch copycat attacks, according to the Counter Extremism Project.However, it isn’t just the lone wolves preoccupying counterterror commands across Western Europe, said Olivier Guitta, managing director of the security and geopolitical consultancy Globalstrat.

He assesses that the “terror threat level to Europe is above the 2015 level,” when a wave of gruesome attacks last shook the Continent.Guitta agrees that lone-wolf attacks are more likely, “but on top of that, the much more sophisticated attacks similar to the November 2015 Paris coordinated attacks could happen,” possibly launched by sleeper cells maintained by major jihadist groups present on the Continent.

“The threats are coming not only from the usual suspects like Islamic State and al-Qaida but also, more importantly, from Iran through its proxies — especially Hezbollah — and do not forget Russia. The terror threat level is at the highest in France and at the second highest level in Belgium,” he said.Adding to these worries is the fact that over the past few years, hundreds of jihadists have been freed from European jails, having completed their sentences.

Of the 500 such detainees locked up in France in early 2021, 58 were released later the same year, and around 100 more have been released since, according to POLITICO’s own tally. Most had been convicted for joining jihadist groups in Syria or Iraq, or assisting others in doing so.“It is extremely difficult for security services to monitor the freed-up jihadists on a 24/7 basis because it requires huge manpower with a ratio of 30 officers for each terrorist,” Guitta noted.

European Centre for Counterterrorism and Intelligence Studies, Germany & Netherlands – ECCI

Related articles:

Follow us on Twitter

Follow us on Facebook