Belgium – Belgian police arrested 11 people in anti-terrorism raids targeting jihadists who have returned from Syria, prosecutors said on the 8 Feb 17. Police raided nine houses in various areas of Brussels including Molenbeek, the district that was home to several of those involved in the Paris and Brussels attacks. "The investigation was launched in relation to the issue of possible returning Syria fighters," the federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement in English. "In all, eleven persons were arrested and taken for questioning." No weapons or explosives were found, the prosecutor said. "This case is completely independent from the case files concerning the attacks in Paris of 13 November 2015 or in Brussels/Zaventem of 22 March 2016," the statement added. Prosecutors said earlier that one of them, Khaled Khattab, a friend of Brussels airport bomber Najim Laachraoui, managed to flee Belgium last year despite having been sentenced to seven years in prison for involvement in a recruiting network.
France – A soldier on the 3 Feb 17shot and wounded a man armed with a machete who was trying to enter the Louvre museum in central Paris, police said. Police sources said that the man had been trying to get into the museum's underground shop with a suitcase. "We are dealing with an attack from an individual who was clearly aggressive and represented a direct threat, and whose comments lead us to believe that he wished to carry out a terrorist incident," Michel Cadot, the head of the French capital's police force, said, adding the man had shouted, "Allahu Akbar". "There was also a second individual who was behaving suspiciously, who has also been detained, but for now there does not appear to be a link between that individual and the attack," Cadot said. The attacker was shot five times and seriously wounded. The soldier suffered slight head injuries. The interior ministry said on Twitter that the incident was "serious". An anti-terrorism inquiry has been opened, the public prosecutor said in a statement. The motivation and the identity of the attacker was unknown at the time of the incident.
France – A suspected would-be suicide bomber was one of four people arrested in the southern French city of Montpellier by anti-terrorist police on the 10 Feb 17. Home-made explosives similar to those used in the devastating Paris attacks of Nov 15 were also discovered, police and judicial sources said. A girl of 16 was arrested along with three young men. The explosives found in Montpellier on the 10 Feb 17 were identified as TATP or triacetone triperoxide. TATP was used to make bomb vests for the Paris attackers. Meanwhile, the country's top constitutional court struck down a law which penalised those who consult jihadist websites. The Constitutional Council found that the law infringed on people's freedom of communication unnecessarily.
Germany/Iran – German intelligence believes that Iran has tested a nuclear-capable cruise missile, the German newspaper Die Welt reported on the 2 Feb 17. In addition to a ballistic missile test that Iran itself revealed, Germany believes that Iran also test-fired a Sumar cruise missile, which could have a range of 2,000-3,000 kilometres (1,250-1,875 miles) and could reach Germany at its maximum capability. In its test, the Sumar successfully travelled 600 kilometres (375 miles), a little less than half the distance to Israel. Cruise missiles can travel at a lower altitude than ballistic missiles and also have radar-evading capabilities, making them harder to counter. Iran may be pursuing this course because unlike with ballistic missiles, Iran is not explicitly banned by the United Nations Security Council from developing cruise missiles, a security expert explained to Die Welt. However, if Iran is developing a nuclear-capable missile, it undercuts its claim, often made in defence of its ballistic missile program, that nuclear weapons have “no place” in Iran’s defence doctrine. The semi-official Tasnim news agency recently stated that “nuclear weapons have basically no place in the Islamic Republic’s defense doctrine.” A 2016 report (.pdf) from the Congressional Research Service quoted a number of high-ranking Iranian officials, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, making similar assertions. The Sumar was unveiled in March 2015 and is based on the Russian Kh-55 missile. German intelligence reports leaked in 2014 and 2015 showed that Iran sought to purchase technologies for nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. National Security Advisor Michael Flynn said that in response to Iran’s ballistic missile testing and support for the Houthi rebels in Yemen, the United States was putting Iran “on notice” and would not tolerate Iran’s continued violations of international norms. This article is published courtesy of The Tower
Germany – Armed German police have made an arrest over a terror attack plot - months after a half-built bomb was found in the flat of an ISIS suspect. Commandos stormed an apartment on the night of the 13 Feb 17 having raided the home of 22-year-old Jabir al-Bakr in the same eastern city of Chemnitz in Oct 16. Authorities have not yet stated whether the latest operation by the elite SEK police has anything to do with the original terror raid on al-Bakr's flat. In October, police discovered a partially constructed explosive in al-Bakr's home that he intended to complete and detonate at a Berlin area airport. The Syrian initially escaped the clutches of police but was eventually turned over to officers by refugees he sought help from in Leipzig. He later hanged himself in his jail cell. At least one person was taken into custody suspected of plotting a terror attack in Germany. The raids were sanctioned by Germany's chief federal prosecutor in Karlsruhe. The country remains on a high state of alert following the Christmas market massacre in Berlin on the 19 Dec 16 when ISIS operative Anis Amri drove a hijacked truck into a crowd of revellers, killing 12 and injuring dozens more. Authorities are expected to clarify soon whether Monday's operation was linked to the al-Bakr case or was aimed at a separate terror threat.
Spain/Da’esh – fanatics have issued 'direct threats' on Spanish tourist hotspots where millions of Britons are expected to visit this year, according to a government report. The warnings were reportedly found on social media amid fears the terror group is also recruiting translators and foreign jihadists from the country. Its bid to find Spanish speaking fanatics started last summer, the document claims, adding that extremists were increasingly publishing in the language. It comes just weeks after police in San Sebastian, in the country's north, arrested a Moroccan boxing coach suspected of recruiting for ISIS. The 'direct threats' to Spain are outlined within an official government report it was reported on the 13 Feb 17. No specific target had been named. But it will raise fears among holidaymakers of a repeat of the gun massacre in Tunisia in Jun 15 in which ISIS fanatic Seifeddine Rezgui shot 38 people including 30 British tourists in the coastal resort of Port El Kantaoui. The official document claims 'ISIS has been publishing in Spanish, which means an increase in the risk of its influence on radicals living in our country'. And it states that last year 'Da’esh launched a campaign to hire Spanish translators, which suggests a growing interest in attracting Spanish-speaking foreign fighters.' In Jan 16 ISIS issued a chilling video threat to launch terror attacks in Spain, declaring: 'We will recover our land from the invaders.' Spain is currently level four on the anti-terror alert – the same ranking as the UK. Around 15 million of the 65 million foreign tourists that flock to Spain every year are British. A Foreign Office spokesman pointed to its own official travel advice for the country saying: 'Our online travel advice contains thorough information on staying safe abroad, including terrorism threats, and we keep it under constant review.' Former Met Police counter terror officer David Videcette, who investigated the 7/7 London bombings, told the Olive Press that an attack on Spain was 'very possible'. He said some Spanish resorts could be vulnerable to truck attacks like the ones that were carried out in Nice and Berlin. 'They may well be looking to attack specific countries with tourists, 'It’s very possible Costa Brava, Costa Del Sol, those sort of places could be on someone’s target list.' Official government guidelines for travelling to Spain says there is a 'general threat from terrorism' and that attacks 'could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners'. Tourists are warned to be 'vigilant' amid warnings a number of Spanish nationals 'successfully travelled to Syria and Iraq.' Just weeks ago, Spain's interior ministry said police had arrested a Moroccan boxing coach suspected of recruiting for the terror group. The arrested man specialised in 'sending foreign fighters to Turkey where they received instructions from Da’esh to commit attacks in Europe', the ministry said in a statement. He was detained in San Sebastian in Spain's northern Basque Country, the statement added, without giving the suspect's name or age. According to the ministry, the suspect had had links with a man previously detained in Morocco and another arrested in France in Nov 16 both of whom followed 'concrete and precise instructions from Da’esh.' According to Spanish authorities, 181 alleged jihadists have been detained since 2015, when Spain increased its terror alert to category four on a five-point scale. The country has been mentioned on extremist websites as a possible attack target for historical reasons, given Muslims ruled in Spain for close to eight centuries until 1492. But it has been spared any incident since Mar 04, when bombs exploded on commuter trains in Madrid, leaving 191 dead in attacks claimed by Al-Qaeda inspired militants. In Nov 16 two suspected ISIS terrorists, who authorities say were willing to carry out attacks in Spain, were arrested in Barcelona and Madrid. The Moroccan pair were 'dangerous' and 'directed and controlled' by the terror group, Spanish Ministry of Interior officials said. Earlier that month four people suspected of trying to recruit so-called Caliphate Cubs - child soldiers as young as 12 to fight for ISIS - were held in Spain's North African enclave of Ceuta. And in Oct 16 two Muslim preachers accused of supporting ISIS were held in the Ibizan party resort of San Antonio. 361 COMMENT: Although the report is from an on-line open source British newspaper the threat which has existed since early 2016 is broad in the way of nationalities. Many different nationalities visit and holiday in Spain. The same threat will also apply to other European countries that have Mediterranean holiday resorts. Those who wish to holiday in areas where there is likely to be a threat should check the travel advice of the country they come from preferably before they book their holiday. COMMENT ENDS