Europe/Da’esh – Around 60 Islamic State jihadis were stationed in cities across Europe shortly before the Paris attacks in November last year and were planning to carry out a number of atrocities a report claimed on the 9 Feb 16. An intelligence source has revealed the target cities were Paris, London, Berlin and a heavily populated area somewhere in Belgium, although there is no evidence to suggest the attacks were to take place simultaneously. The source also revealed that Western intelligence agencies are concerned ISIS may attempt an even more ambitious attack in the coming months. The unnamed senior European counterterrorism source said that security agencies had 'hints' that an attack was to be carried out shortly before the Paris massacre, but information was difficult to verify and too vague and fragmented to act on. 'In terms of ambition, it also just pointed towards something we already knew. ISIS had hardly made it a secret it sought to target Europe,' the source claimed. The source also revealed Abu Mohammed al-Adnani is believed to be the mastermind behind the plan to attack multiple European cities. Al-Adnani, was said to be severely wounded in an airstrike in Iraq last month. He was earmarked as the group's next leader but was reported as having lost 'a large amount of blood' after being hit in the town of Barwanah, in the Anbar province. He was moved to the city of Hit for initial treatment before being transferred to Mosul flanked by security guards. Al-Adnani is considered the terror network's most prominent public figure in Iraq, having made several audio recordings which have been posted online. He is held in the same bracket of notoriety as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the caliph of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and has been suggested as the jihadists' next leader should Baghdadi lose his position. Adnani was held in custody - believed to have been at the American detention facility, Camp Bucca - after being captured by US troops in 2005, remaining a prisoner until 2010. A £2.5million bounty was issued in May 2014 for information leading to the Syrian born extremist, referring to his 'repeated calls for attacks against Westerners', and he specifically threatened France and Belgium. In June of that year, he declared a 'caliphate' for parts of Syria and Iraq indicating ISIS' aim of not just being a terrorist group, but a governing body. The source said Western intelligence agencies believe Adnani is at the heart of ISIS' international attack planning. 'As far as we're concerned, he is top of our target list,' the source said.
Belgium/France – The Belgian and French prime ministers hold talks in Brussels on the 1 Feb 16 aimed at bolstering counter-terror cooperation after Belgium came under fire for failing to help prevent the Paris attacks. Charles Michel of Belgium and Manuel Valls of France, joined by their interior and justice ministers, will also tackle the broader threat of terrorism across the European Union and the Schengen passport-free zone that allows unhindered travel, a French official said. The mini-summit will focus on “French-Belgian cooperation on the subject of fighting terrorism and radicalization” and how to “reinforce it,” a French official said following tensions between the two neighbours over the issue. The two sides will study in particular how to improve the flow of intelligence sharing, the official said. Belgium has rejected French criticism of its police and intelligence services over alleged failings in the run-up to the Nov. 13 attacks that killed 130 people and were claimed by ISIS group. Michel insisted “Belgium is not a lawless area” after investigators revealed some of the Paris assailants and those who allegedly helped them had come from the troubled immigrant neighbourhood of Molenbeek in the Belgian capital Brussels. ISIS said four of the nine assailants were of Belgian origin, including one of the organizers, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who was killed in a French police raid days after the massacre. Three others were French and two were Iraqi. Since mid-November, 11 people have been arrested and charged in Belgium in connection with the massacre. A key suspect, Salah Abdeslam, and his friend Mohamed Abrini, who are both from Molenbeek, are still at large. Despite the undercurrent of tension, France and Belgium hail their cooperation. “The cooperation between our services is excellent and is yielding results,” Michel told Belgium's diplomatic corps recently. “It also shows what can be improved and what needs to be reinforced.” In addition to French-Belgian cooperation, a French official said, the two sides will study “what actions can be taken” to fight terrorism at the European Union level and in the 26-nation Schengen zone, which includes most EU countries. Paris in particular is pushing for a deal on sharing the names of airline passengers to help trace returning militants.
Germany – Massive raids against suspected Islamist militants were carried out by hundreds of officers in Germany today, including two refugee homes reports claimed on the 4 Feb 16. The raids were carried out to prevent 'severe acts of violence', according to police. Experts say Germany is long overdue a terrorist attack by jihadists because of its support for military operations against the group in Iraq and Syria. Two of the addresses searched were an asylum seekers centre in Hanover and another in Attendorn in the Sauerland region. One of the arrested men in Berlin had registered his address as an asylum seekers residence. Critics have long argued that Chancellor Merkel's open door policy towards refugees could allow terrorists to come into Germany posing as refugees from war and terror. If the suspects registered in the centres are indeed ISIS sympathisers or supporters, the pressure on her to reverse her policies will only increase. Berlin was the centre of the operation where police swooped on four apartments and two business premises. Police spokesman Stefan Redlich said four Algerians were being sought for their suspected links with ISIS terrorists in Syria. Berlin police said the four 'from the jihad scene are under investigation over suspicions that they are planning a serious act threatening the security of the state.' A woman and two Algerian men for whom there were existing arrest warrants, have been taken into custody. One of the men arrested is wanted for belonging to ISIS by the Algerian authorities who say he was trained at a terror camp in Syria. 'Investigations show that he has been trained militarily in Syria,' police said in a statement. The second Algerian was arrested for having falsified identity documents. During the searches computers, mobile phones and records were seized. Apartments in the heavily immigrant areas of Kreuzberg, Tempelhof and Berlin-Mitte were checked in the hunt for clues tying the suspects to ISIS. 'Before we can draw more conclusions, we have to wait for the investigation of the public prosecutor's office and the evaluation of the seized objects', said Berlin's interior senator Frank Henkel. 'We have still every reason to be vigilant and careful.' Since the November Paris attacks in which IS gunmen and suicide bombers attacked Paris nightspots, German authorities have issued terrorism alerts on several occasions. In November, a Germany-Netherlands football match was called off and on New Year's Eve, several Munich subway stations were closed over such threats.
Germany/Europe/PEGIDA – A march by Germany's anti-Islamic organisation PEGIDA drew thousands to the eastern city of Dresden on the 6 Feb 16 with rallies in support of the movement also held in a string of other European cities. In Prague, about 5,000 people turned out for a PEGIDA-inspired march organised by two far-Right groups, while in Amsterdam mounted police charged pro- and anti-PEGIDA groups and arrested at least a dozen people. Another rally in the northern French port of Calais, home to the infamous "Jungle" refugee camp for migrants seeking passage across the Channel to Britain, brought about 20 arrests, local authorities said. Police there responded with tear gas after scuffles broke out. The PEGIDA group had called for the Saturday rallies, urging supporters to march under the anti-migrant banner of "Fortress Europe". The group began as a movement in Germany in mid-2014 and has spread to other countries as Europe grapples with its worst refugee crisis since the Second World War. Several thousand PEGIDA supporters turned up in Dresden under clear blue skies to march along the banks of the River Elbe, which flows through the city, to protest against mass immigration and the "Islamisation" of Europe. Absent was Lutz Bachmann, the movement's founder, owing to illness, organisers said. Police, who deployed about 1,000 officers for the occasion at which several thousand had answered the rallying call an hour after the event began at 1400 hrs GMT. Many held aloft banners criticising Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, who is in the firing line for her liberal stance towards refugees after Germany took in more than a million migrants last year. About 2,000 people - fewer than the 10,000 expected by police - meanwhile joined an anti-PEGIDA rally at which participants urged tolerance towards migrants. Anti-PEGIDA marchers chanted slogans including "no place for Nazis" and "we don't need xenophobia, demagoguery or PEGIDA." PEGIDA supporters counter that they are "European patriots against the Islamisation of the west." In Prague, the crowd was thought to have been around 5,000 although police did not give an official estimate of the demo or its counter-rally. Police arrested four people. In Amsterdam, rival groups numbering a few hundred each waved banners with slogans such as "Refugees Welcome" and "Islamists not Welcome". "We are demonstrating because we are very worried about our country and Islam," said 51-year-old Yvette from Utrecht, who carried a white banner saying "PEGIDA is Love" in Dutch. "People are afraid, you must understand," she said. In Britain, protesters gathered in Birmingham, where they were addressed by Tommy Robinson, founder of the right wing group the English Defence League.
Spain – A bomb alarm has been raised at Madrid's Barajas airport after a claim explosives had been placed on a plane to Saudi Arabia it was reported on the 4 Feb 16. The pilot on a Saudi Airlines flight to Riyadh raised the pre-take off alarm after finding a bomb threat onboard, reports claim. All 97 passengers were evacuated after crew found a note reading 'bomb aboard' pinned to the bathroom wall with a knife. Spain's interior ministry says the flight was on the runway and had been due to take off just before 11am. The Saudi Airlines plane was quickly diverted to a secure area of the airport, where the 97 passengers and 15 crew members were evacuated. The note with the threat was reportedly written in English, and read: ‘You have a bomb. 11.30'. Spain’s Civil Guard downgraded the alert after a bomb squad examined the plane.
Spanish police said they arrested seven people on the 7 Feb 16 with suspected links to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant groups. The arrests were carried out in the eastern cities of Valencia and Alicante and in Spain’s North African enclave of Ceuta, the police said in a statement. “Four of those arrested are Spanish nationals of Syrian, Jordanian and Moroccan origin,” it said. A Syrian and a Moroccan were also taken into custody, it said. A police spokesman later announced a seventh arrest, but did not give the individual’s nationality or other details. The arrests were made in the context of an investigation launched in 2014 into “foreign structures” of ISIS and the Al-Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, police said.
United Kingdom/Da’esh – Militants from the terror group, also known as Da’esh, identified Britain as its number one terror target in the chilling message. It said that the UK is due the "lion's share" of ISIS's wrath - in revenge for the RAF's bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria. The jihadis are thought to have their sights set on central London, after a recent video highlighted a string of potential targets it was reported on the 3 Feb 16. Footage released last week includes frames of high-profile attractions which could be the site of an attack. They include Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Tower Bridge and Big Ben. It marks a change in focus from the Paris massacre, where gunmen shunned national monuments in favour of restaurants, bars and a music venue. The ISIS message compared the coming strike to scenes of Armageddon in the Koran. According to a British newspaper, it said the carnage would "turn children's hair white" - an image used in an apocalyptic passage of the Islamic holy book. The whole passage says: "There will be shackles, and fire, and food that chokes, and painful punishments. "On that day the Earth will convulse and the mountains will become a heap of pouring sand." It continues: "How can you defend yourselves, if you don't believe, from a day that will turn children's hair to white? "That day the heavens will shatter. His promise is always fulfilled." The video, containing ominous scenes of London, was released last week. The 17-minute film features some of the Paris attackers threatening Europe before they set out on their attacks. One, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, warned that sleeper cells are lying in wait around terror targets. He said: "By Allah, we will come to you. Rather, we are already in your lands. We will slaughter you inside your homes." MI5 and the police are in a constant battle with UK-based terror cells to prevent the next attack. Their activities are shrouded in secrecy, but the Prime Minister has said at least seven credible attacks were foiled last year. There are particular fears surrounding the hundreds of ISIS terrorist fighters known to have come to the UK after fighting in Syria.