Europe – Several terror attacks which were planned to take place before and during the Euro 2016 football tournament in France have been thwarted, according to a Ukrainian security chief on the 6 Jun 16. The head of Ukraine's state security services said a Frenchman was detained in the country after making contact with illegal armed groups to buy guns and explosives. Vasily Gritsak said the unnamed man was arrested in late May 16 on the border with Poland, carrying 125kg of TNT. The weapons seized by police after the arrest. It is claimed the suspected far-right extremist intended to target Muslim and Jewish places of worship in France, plus administrative buildings and infrastructure such as bridges and railways in "a series of 15 acts of terror". The suspect had been tailed since Dec 15 Mr Gritsak said, and was seen buying five machine guns, two rocket-propelled grenades, and other weapons. He also had 100 detonators and 20 balaclavas. At a news conference Mr Gritsak said: "The Frenchman spoke negatively about his government's actions, mass immigration, the spread of Islam and globalisation, and also talked about plans to carry out several terrorist attacks." Sky's Foreign Affairs Editor Sam Kiley said: "This was a white, right-winger complaining, according to the Ukrainian authorities, about what he considers is his country's lax immigration." Mr Gritsak said Ukraine's intelligence agency initially planned to keep quiet about the investigation, but went public with the arrest after reports in international media. Last week the US State Department issued a "potential terrorist attacks" warning for Americans planning to travel to Europe. The travel alert, which expires on 31 Aug 16 made no mention of specific threats to Euro 2016 matches or other events, but warned US citizens to "exercise vigilance" and "avoid crowded places". France's national stadium, the Stade de France, was one of the sites targeted during the 13 Nov 15 Paris attacks that left 130 people dead.
Belgium – Brussels could be a target for terrorists during the month of Ramadan as security is beefed up in crowded public places, such as fan parks showing Euro 2016 matches. Schools and hospitals are being closely monitored as well. Information from security services on the possible terror threats was reported in Dutch newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws it was reported on the 14 Jun 16. The attacks could take place during Ramadan which started on the 6 Jun 16 and will last until the 5 Jul 16. Last month ISIS released a chilling video calling for attacks on Europe and the US during the holy month. In a recording titled 'That They Live By Proof' the group's spokesman Abu Mohamed al-Adnani said: 'Ramadan, the month of conquest and jihad. Get prepared; be ready...to make it a month of calamity everywhere for the non-believers...especially for the fighters and supporters of the caliphate in Europe and America. 'The smallest action you do in their heartland is better and more enduring to us than what you would if you were with us. If one of you hoped to reach the Islamic State, we wish we were in your place to punish the Crusaders day and night.' Belgium has been on high alert after coordinated suicide bombings at Brussels airport and at Maalbeek metro train station, which left 35 dead and was the deadliest terrorist attack in the country's history. Last Friday night (10 Jun 16) two police cars were torched in the working class district of Molenbeek - which is 80 per cent Muslim - and is often referred to as a 'hotbed for Islamic extremism'.
Belgium/France/Da’esh – A fresh wave of Da’esh terror group’s militants has left Syria and could commit attacks imminently in France and Belgium, Belgian police have been warned, according to media reports on the 15 Jun 16. “Fighters travelling without passports left Syria about a week and a half ago in order to reach Europe by boat via Turkey and Greece,” a memo sent to police and security services across Belgium said, according to La Derniere Heure newspaper. The militants were travelling armed and planning to carry out attacks in groups of two, the memo is reported to have said. “Their action is imminent,” the memo added, without giving the total of suspected attackers. Belgium’s OCAM national crisis centre in a statement did not deny the report, but said the information needed to be looked at further. The information reported by the media “is non-contextualised and, as such, has not made a direct impact on the current level of threat” in Belgium. Belgium’s terror alert is currently at the second-highest level of three, which means a threat is possible and likely. Belgium is still reeling from Da’esh suicide bombings at Brussels airport and on the city’s metro on March 22 which killed 32 people and wounded hundreds more. They came five months after militants, many of them from Brussels, carried out gun and bombing attacks in Paris on November 13, killing 130 people and wounding hundreds more. 361 COMMENT: There are a number of open source reports regarding this threat. Also see 15 Jun 16 Terrorist and Security Report/Middle East/Da’esh/United States/The West. The threat was also mention from a Jordanian open source. COMMENT ENDS
France – An attacker has killed a French police commander and his partner at their home in a Paris suburb before being shot dead by police officers. The attack on the evening of the 13 Jun 16 was claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group, which said the assailant was one of its fighters. French President Francois Hollande said on the 14 Jun 16 that the killing was "unquestionably a terrorist act". The couple were "murdered in cowardly fashion by a terrorist," Hollande told reporters after the overnight attack at the couple's home northwest of Paris, adding: "France is facing a very significant terrorist threat." A French Interior Ministry spokesman said the attacker stabbed the officer, Jean-Baptiste Salvaing, outside the home and subsequently barricaded himself inside the building, taking the couple's three-year-old son hostage. Attempts to negotiate an end to the standoff failed and police forces raided the house in the Magnanville area, killing the suspect, named Larossi Abballa, according to a news agency. The body of the officer's partner was found inside the house and the boy was rescued. "Negotiations were unsuccessful, a decision was made to launch an assault," Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said. Abballa, who was 25-years-old, had previously been sentenced to a three-year term - six months of which were suspended - for "criminal association with the aim of preparing terrorist acts", in a trial with seven other defendants. The attacker was linked to armed groups in Pakistan, according to sources close the investigation. If confirmed, the attack is the first since ISIL launched bomb and gun attacks across Paris in Nov 15 last year, killing 130 people. The French government put into place a state of emergency after those attacks, and ISIL has vowed to continue its campaign in the country. France like many European countries is dealing with the threat of attacks by fighters from within its own borders returning home after fighting with ISIL and other armed groups in Syria and Iraq. The man who killed a French police officer and his partner in a stabbing attack outside their home near Paris was inspired by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, according to a video he posted on Facebook during the attack i was reported on the 15 Jun 16. Larossi Abballa filmed himself with the couple's child, calling for more attacks and referred to ISIL spokesman Abu Mohamed al-Adnani, who called for attacks on Europe and the United States during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. French prosecutor Francois Molins on the 14 Jun 16 said Abballa told negotiators that he had sworn loyalty to ISIL three weeks earlier. Molins said police had found a hit list at the scene naming police, dignitaries, journalists and rappers to be targeted. ISIL claimed responsibility for the killings shortly after the attack.
Germany – Three Syrian men have been arrested in Germany over an alleged plan to launch a suicide attack there for the ISIS militant group, federal prosecutors said on the 2 Jun 16. According to the suspects’ plan, two attackers were to detonate suicide vests while the others were to kill passersby with guns and explosives in the western city of Dusseldorf, prosecutors said in a statement. The suspects were identified as 27-year-old Hamza C., 25-year-old Mahood B., and Abd Arahman A. K., 31, who were arrested in the states of Brandenburg near Berlin, North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Wurttemberg. A fourth Syrian male, Saleh A., 25, had been in custody in France since turning himself in Feb 16 they said, and Germany had now requested his extradition. “According to current investigations, the four accused were planning to commit an attack in Germany for the foreign terrorist organisation ISIS,” said the prosecutors. Saleh A. and Hamza C. had joined IS in early 2014 in Syria, where “they were ordered by the group’s leadership to carry out an attack in the old town of Dusseldorf”. “Two suicide attackers were to set off their explosives vests at the Heinrich-Heine-Allee, a major street in Dusseldorf,” the prosecutors said in the statement. “After that, other attackers were to kill as many passersby as possible with guns and other explosives.” Saleh A. and Hamza C. had crossed from Syria to Turkey in May 2014. From there they travelled separately in March and July last year via Greece to Germany. Abd Arahman A. K. had already arrived in Germany in Oct 14 “on the orders of the IS leadership”, tasked with manufacturing the suicide vests, said the statement. By Jan 16 Saleh A. and Hamza C. had convinced Mahood B. to join in the attack. The prosecutors added that there was no evidence “that the accused had already initiated the concrete implementation of their attack plan”.
Germany – Authorities in Germany are monitoring almost 500 Islamic extremists they believe pose a potential security threat, officials said on the 3 Jun 16. The announcement came a day after the arrest of three men suspected of planning to carry out an attack in the country for ISIS. The men – identified only as Syrians named as Hamza C, 27; Mahood B, 25; and Abd Arahman AK, 31 – were arrested in three separate locations across Germany following a tip from a fourth suspect who had approached French authorities earlier this year. While Germany hasn't suffered mass-casualty attacks by Islamic extremists of the type seen in France and Belgium over recent months, authorities say the country is a target and the risk of attacks is high. 'It's definitely too soon for a fundamental reassessment in light of what happened on the 2 Jun 16' Interior Ministry spokesman Johannes Dimroth said, adding that authorities will have to await the outcome of prosecutors' investigation. All three of those arrested in Germany were living in refugee shelters, adding to concerns that ISIS might be sending fighters to Germany disguised as asylum-seekers. Almost 1.1million people were registered as asylum-seekers in Germany last year, many of them fleeing war and persecution in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Dimroth said authorities had received regular tips about possible Islamic extremists coming to Germany as asylum-seekers and were systematically checking those reports. He didn't say how many of the 499 Islamic extremists under observation by state and federal police were asylum-seekers. Federal prosecutors say the men who were arrested intended to carry out an attack in the western city of Dusseldorf though they had no concrete plans. German weekly Der Spiegel reported on the 2 Jun 16 that the plot was to involve a total of 10 attackers, of whom two were to detonate suicide vests. The magazine didn't provide a source for that information, which it said French authorities received from Saleh A., a 25-year-old Syrian in custody in France. None of the suspects' surnames were given due to German privacy rules. Authorities spent months quietly tracking the three men before swooping on the 2 Jun 16 because one of the suspects planned to travel to southern Europe, Der Spiegel reported. Overall in Germany, Justice Ministry spokesman Philip Scholz said federal prosecutors are currently conducting nearly 120 investigations involving over 180 suspects in connection with terrorism offences. Wolfgang Bosbach, a senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's party, warned on the 3 Jun 16 against placing all refugees under suspicion. But he told public broadcaster rbb-Inforadio it was important to know exactly who was coming to Germany.
Poland – Poland says it will start recruiting in Sep 16 for a new 35,000-strong paramilitary defence force because of tensions with Russia it was announced on the 3 Jun 16. Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz said top positions in the Territorial Defence Force had already been decided. The force will have civilian volunteers trained in military skills. It is aimed at countering "hybrid" warfare of the kind that led parts of Ukraine to break away and pledge loyalty to Russia. NATO also plans to reinforce Poland. One NATO battalion will be deployed to Poland and three more to the neighbouring Baltic states - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The total troop deployment is expected to be about 4,000, on a rotating basis. A NATO summit in Warsaw on 8-9 Jul 16 will finalise the details of that deployment. Several of NATO's 28 member states will send troops to beef up the alliance's presence in the east, near the Russian border. Russia's annexation of the Ukrainian Crimea peninsula in March 2014 and the insurgency by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine sent a chill through NATO members who used to be in the Soviet bloc. Russia has also deployed Iskander-M nuclear-capable missiles to Kaliningrad, a territory sandwiched between Poland and the Baltic states. In Apr 16, Mr Macierewicz said the new Territorial Defence Force was needed because Poland "is threatened by the actions of our neighbour Russia, which makes no secret of its aggressive intentions and which since 2008 has systematically been undertaking action aimed at destabilising the peaceful order in Europe". On the 3 Jun 16 he announced a Sep 16 recruitment drive, at a conference of paramilitary organisations in Ostroda, northern Poland. The Baltic region has experienced heightened military tension in recent months, with NATO complaining of aggressive behaviour by Russian air force jets. Russian Foreign Ministry department chief Andrei Kelin, quoted by Reuters news agency, said the deployment of four NATO battalions to the region "would be a very dangerous build-up of armed forces pretty close to our borders". Russia has announced plans to send three new military divisions to areas close to its western and southern borders. Military sources quoted by Russian media say they are likely to be motorised rifle formations of about 10,000 soldiers each. Next week some existing Polish paramilitary units will take part in a NATO defensive military exercise in Poland called Anaconda 2016. The idea of resurrecting Poland's territorial defence units gained traction following Russia's annexation of Crimea and its support for rebels fighting in eastern Ukraine. When Mr Macierewicz signed the document initiating the volunteer defence system in a Warsaw secondary school in Apr 16, he said the units would serve to defend against Russian aggression and to promote patriotism. He said Poland was the only NATO member without such a force. Warsaw abandoned its Soviet-era territorial units in 2008. Volunteers will undergo about 30 days' military training a year and the first three brigades are scheduled to be operational in eastern Poland by the start of next year, with the remaining 14 in the rest of the country expected to be ready in 2019. One of the first three brigades will defend Poland's border with Kaliningrad. The war in Ukraine triggered discussion about the territorial units in both Poland and the Baltic states, which already have them. One of the main concerns is the threat of a hybrid attack, a combination of conventional and unconventional warfare and cyber warfare.
United Kingdom/Cyber Terrorism – Robert Hannigan, the director of GCHQ, the British equivalent of the U.S. NSA, has warned that terrorists and rogue states are gaining the technical capability to bring a major city to a standstill with the click of a button it was reported on the 10 Jun 16. Hannigan usually does not appear or speak in public, but in a rare public speech he said that the risk to cities like London would significantly increase as more physical objects – cars, household appliances — are connected online in what is called the Internet of Things. Hannigan was speaking at the Cheltenham Science Festival. The Telegraph reports that Hannigan warned that nation-states were busy working on developing the kind of cyber programs that could attack the United Kingdom, and that terrorist organizations were seeking to exploit the technology. “At some stage they will get the capability,” he said. “There are certainly states and groups with the intent to do it, terrorist groups, for example, who have no threshold when it comes to the loss of life. “We’re not quite there yet, but as the world becomes ever more connected that will become a greater risk.” Hannigan defending the Internet surveillance powers given to the GCHQ and other intelligence agencies by the controversial Investigatory Powers Bill, which passed its third reading in the House of Commons. He said that seven attacks against the United Kingdom had been foiled in the last eighteen months due to bulk data analysis.