Europe – Moldovan police working with the FBI are reported to have stopped four attempts by smugglers to sell nuclear material to extremists in the Middle East over the past five years.
The most recent case was in February when undercover agents were offered a large amount of radioactive caesium it was reported on the 7 Oct 15. Investigators say much of the material is believed to come from Russia. They say some gangs have alleged links to Russia's intelligence services. Police and judicial authorities in Moldova shared information with to highlight how dangerous the nuclear black market has become, the report said. They say the deterioration in relations between Russia and the West has made it more difficult to know whether smugglers are succeeding in selling radioactive material originating from Russia abroad. "We can expect more of these cases," said Moldovan police officer Constantin Malic, who investigated all four cases. "As long as the smugglers think they can make big money without getting caught, they will keep doing it." In many cases deals were broken up by police in the early stages but ringleaders managed to escape - possibly with their nuclear contraband. In the case involving the caesium, the would-be smuggler wanted 2.5m Euros (£1.8m) for enough radioactive material to contaminate several city streets. At a club in the Moldovan capital Chisinau he told a potential client - who was really an informant: "You can make a dirty bomb, which would be perfect for the Islamic State. If you have a connection with them, the business will go smoothly." A sample vial of less-radioactive caesium 135 was produced and police pounced, arresting the man and two others.
The three other thwarted deals. In 2010 three people were arrested after a sawn-off piece of a depleted uranium cylinder was exchanged for cash. Investigators broke up a deal in 2011 to sell weapons-grade uranium to a potential buyer in the Middle East Late last year a sample of unenriched uranium was exchanged for $15,000 (£9,800). Six people were arrested but five got away. It is not clear whether the cases in Moldova indicate a more widespread nuclear smuggling operation, the report says. Eric Lund, spokesman for the US State Department's bureau in charge of non-proliferation said Moldova had taken "many important steps" to strengthen its counter nuclear smuggling capabilities.
Germany – Islamic State militants have been making their way into Germany mingling with tens of thousands of asylum-seekers arriving in this country, according to German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere on the 3 Oct 15. Germany's intelligence services have regularly received inputs about attempts by ISIS militants or other radical islamist groups to smuggle their people into the country and this heightened fears that there may be terrorists among the refugees, he said. The secret services, however, have no concrete indication that extremists having orders to carry out attacks are among the migrants, even though "such a danger is always a possibility," he said. He also spoke of the threat posed to Germany's internal security by extremist Islamic organisations such as salafists who try to radicalise the refugees by indoctrinating them in their reception centres and to "use them for their purposes.
Intelligence agencies have information that these groups are trying to recruit fighters for the war in Iraq and in Syria and very often, minors are their targets. Around 790 jihadists from Germany have already travelled to that region to join the ISIS forces. Germany's interior ministry estimates that more than 60,000 refugees have entered the country since the beginning of this year and for the whole year it expects their number would go up to 800,000.
Spain – Spain's Interior Ministry says Spanish and Moroccan police have arrested 10 people on suspicion of recruiting jihadi fighters for the Islamic State group. Four of the suspects, two men and two women, were arrested in Spain, with raids taking place in Badalona, Toledo and Valencia, while the other six arrests happened in Morocco, a ministry statement says on the 4 Oct 15. The women arrested in Spain were both Moroccans, while one of the men was a Spanish national of Moroccan ancestry and the other a Portuguese citizen converted to Islam. All are suspected of recruiting people to fight in Syria and Iraq, the statement says. The arrests took place on Sunday and investigators also seized a considerable amount of computer equipment and data which is being analyzed, the statement says.
United Kingdom – Will Kerr, Police Service of Northern Ireland assistant chief constable, said on the 2 Oct 15 that the threat from the New IRA, Continuity IRA, and Óglaigh na hÉireann (ONH) was at present severe, and that a dissident republican terror attack is “highly likely.” Kerr said the main armed republican groups which oppose the ceasefire would aim to ramp up their violence ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising against British rule in 2016. He noted that the republican dissidents had honed their skills and improved their rocket and bomb-making technology by studying improvised explosive devices (IEDs) used by the Taliban in Afghanistan and Islamist insurgents in Iraq. Northern Ireland’s most senior counter-terrorism officers say that a dissident republican terror attack is “highly likely.” The chief constable of Northern Ireland, George Hamilton, appearing alongside Kerr, agreed with Kerr on the danger posed by the three main armed republican groups which oppose the peace process. He said that how the PSNI respond to the threat is “critically important for public confidence.” Analysts say that PSNI recruits from the Catholic/Nationalist community in Northern Ireland remain high on the dissident terror groups’ hit list. They note that Sinn Fein has given its backing to the PSNI, but that there has been a drop in the number of Catholic/Nationalist recruits to the police. Will Kerr said the main armed republican groups which oppose the ceasefire would aim to ramp up their violence ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising against British rule in 2016. Kerr also noted that the republican dissidents had honed their skills and improved their rocket and bomb-making technology by studying improvised explosive devices (IEDs) used by the Taliban in Afghanistan and Islamist insurgents in Iraq. Kerr estimated that there was a “hardcore of several hundred” hardline republican activists keeping the armed republican campaigns going. He said there was “certainly an ambition” by dissident republicans dramatically to increase their violence in the lead-up to the centenary of the 1916 rising.