— The Erimtan Angle —

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‘More than 50 British children are among those being trained by Islamic State in Syria, according to a UK-based counter-extremism think-tank. And despite the ongoing fight against ISIS, the terror group says jihadi ideology is here to stay and that it’s going to spread across Europe. Published on Aug 2, 2016’.

At the same time, Europol analysts and experts, drawing on contributions from EU Member States and external partners have compiled a disturbing report detailing the threats faced by Fortress Europe in the early 21st century: European Union Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2016 and introduced with these words: ‘This new edition of the EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report (TE-SAT), which Europol has produced on an annual basis since 2006, provides an overview of the failed, foiled and completed terrorist attacks that took place in the EU during 2015, and of arrests, convictions and penalties issued’.[1] The Director of Europol Rob Wainwright writes that “[i]n 2015 the European Union (EU) experienced a massive number of casualties caused by terrorist attacks. By far the most affected Member State was France, which had to cope with losing 148 citizens and seeing more than 350 injured in attacks perpetrated in January [2015] and November [2015]. Murders and injuries in 2015 resulted from both unsophisticated lone actor terrorist attacks and well-coordinated, complex attacks by groups of militants. The carefully planned attacks demonstrated the elevated threat to the EU from a fanatic minority, operationally based in the Middle East, combined with a network of people born and raised in the EU, often radicalised within a short space of time, who have proven to be willing and able to act as facilitators and active accomplices in terrorism. The attacks have led to political reactions at all levels across the EU. On 29 January 2015 – three weeks after the attack on the editors of the French satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo” in Paris – the Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Council issued the “Riga Statement”. In the statement, the Council asserts that counter-terrorism efforts must be reinforced both at national and EU levels, and that terrorism, radicalisation, recruitment and terrorist financing are among the main threats to the internal security of the EU . . . The socalled Islamic State has demonstrated its ability to strike at will, at multiple times and at a diverse range of targets. It has shown its prominence within the “global jihad”, while the threat posed by other jihadist militant groups has not diminished. The overall threat is reinforced by the substantial numbers of returned foreign terrorist fighters that many Member States now have on their soil, perhaps as many as a third of those who had travelled to conflict zones, some of whom could be instrumental in terrorist attacks. Another worrying development is the significant rise in nationalist (xenophobic), racist and anti-Semitic sentiments across the EU, each resulting in acts of right-wing extremism.[2]

Europol-director-Rob-Wainwright

The report itself goes on to say that the “Islamic State has, in the 18 months between its declaration that it re-established the caliphate in June 2014 and December 2015, conducted or inspired at least 50 attacks in 18 countries that have killed 1,100 people and injured more than 1,700. Most attacks – including some public executions of ‘spies’ or other enemies – were carried out in the Middle East and North Africa. The emergence of branches of IS and al-Qaeda in South-East Asia, and a number of terrorist incidents targeting westerners in Bangladesh, might lead to an increased future risk of attacks and kidnappings in those regions. Several European jihadists hold prominent positions in IS and are likely to maintain contact with terrorist networks in their home countries. The 13 November Paris attacks introduced IS’s tactics of using small arms in combination with person-borne improvised explosive devices (PBIED) in suicide vests, designed to cause mass casualties. The way these attacks were prepared and carried out – plotted by returnees, very likely receiving direction from IS leadership, and including the use of local recruits to carry out the attacks – lead us to the assessment that similar attacks could again be staged in the EU in the near future. IS has repeatedly threatened the Iberian Peninsula and EU members of the anti-IS coalition in their propaganda videos, making specific references to Belgium, France, Italy and the UK”. [3]

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[1] “European Union Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2016” Europol (20 July 2016). https://www.europol.europa.eu/content/european-union-terrorism-situation-and-trend-report-te-sat-2016.

[2] Rob Wainwright, “Foreword” European Union Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2016, p. 5.

[3] European Union Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2016, p. 6.

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