Belgium – A machete-wielding man who attacked two policewomen in the southern Belgian city of Charleroi has died in hospital of police gunshot wounds, according to officials. The police officers were attacked outside police headquarters in Charleroi, a city 50km south of the capital, Brussels, on the afternoon of the 6 Aug 16. One suffered "deep wounds to the face" while the other was slightly injured, local media reported. Charleroi police said on Twitter that the attacker, who was shot by a third officer, subsequently died of his injuries in hospital, while the two policewomen were out of danger. "The death of the machete attacker is confirmed," the tweet said. The assailant reportedly shouted "Allahu Akbar" during the attack. Charles Michel, the Belgian prime minister, wrote on Twitter on the 6 Aug 16 that he "strongly" condemned the attack, while the country's Interior Minister Jan Jambon called it a "vile act". "Initial indications clearly point towards terrorism," the prime minister later told the television channel RTL. Public broadcaster VRT said the attacker had taken out a machete when two officers asked to search him at a checkpoint set up outside the city's police headquarters. One young man told the television station VTM that he and his friends heard five to six shots fired in rapid succession, then, 30 seconds later, three more shots. There was no immediate indication of the man's identity; Belgian media reported that the attacker had no papers with him.
Germany/Da’esh – A 'high-ranking' member of ISIS has been arrested in Germany after police received a tip-off that the suspect was involved in alleged threats to target top-flight football matches it was reported on the 9 Aug 16. The special police unit received information about the suspect and detained the 24-year-old from a prison inmate in the western city of Gelsenkirchen. The intelligence about the suspect came in connection with alleged threats against the German Bundesliga - the country's equivalent to the Premier League. A spokesman for the interior ministry of Rhineland-Palatinate said: 'There are indications that something is being planned for the start of the Bundesliga season.' It is believed that the suspect, whose identity was not given, had previously been monitored over a long period of time. League champions Bayern Munich will host Werder Bremen as the new season of Germany's first division football championships kick off on the 26 Aug 16. The largest stadium in the country is Borussia Dortmund's Westfalenstadion, which can hold more than 80,000 fans. It is not known which stadiums the terror group was allegedly targeting.
Germany/Da’esh – Hit squads linked with ISIS terrorists have infiltrated Germany camouflaged as refugees, the head of Bavaria’s intelligence service warns citing “irrefutable evidence” of planned attacks in the country in the wake of recent assaults by migrants. “We have to accept that we got hit squads and sleeper cells here in Germany,” Manfred Hauser, vice-president of Bavaria’s department of the Office for the Protection of Constitution (BfV) told BBC Radio 4 on the 11 Aug 16. His agency is now looking into hundreds of potential cases of terrorists who made their way to Germany disguised as refugees. "We have substantial reports that among the refugees are hit squads," Hauser claimed. BfV is getting the information from various sources, he added, including from interviews with asylum seekers arriving in the country. The risk of terror attacks by the sleepers is “very high” according to the official. The BfV has “irrefutable evidence that there is an ISIS command structure that makes an attack in Germany highly possible." The Federal chief of BfV Hans-Georg Maassen said in Feb 16 that he had “over 100 tip-offs” on ISIS terrorists in Germany who pretended to be asylum seekers. On Thursday, Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Maizeire came out with proposals on boosting anti-terror measures inside the country. As part of the plan the official said that “deporting of criminal refugees” should be made easier. Earlier in August the President of the German Police Union Rainer Wendt has called to thoroughly check “all refugees” arriving in the country. Meanwhile, Germany has intensified its attempts to trace down potential terrorist cells on its soil. On August 5 police arrested a Syrian refugee over potential links to planning a terrorist act at the start of the national football season. Media initially reported that “the man was a high-ranking IS commander” but law enforcers later did not confirm that. On Wednesday police raided several alleged “hotspots” of Islamists in the Federal states of Nordrhein-Westfalen und Niedersachsen, Suddeutsche Zeitung reports. The law enforcers did not make any arrests but are now investigating three people who are suspected to be recruiters for the Islamic State. The three men in question “are suspected of being members and supporters for the foreign terrorist organization Islamic State,” the media outlet cites police as saying. In July this year Germany was shaken by three violent assaults committed by migrants, with dozens of people injured as a result. In two of the cases the assailants pledged allegiance to Islamic State. Following the massacres, Bavaria’s Prime Minister Horst Seehoffer told reporters that “Islamist terrorism has arrived in Germany.” Echoing his comments the state’s Interior Minister Joachim Hermann urged tougher controls for asylum seekers and called for even more radical measures. “A deportation into a war zone should not be taboo as well,” Hermann said, referring to refugees who committed crimes in Germany. Last month Germany’s Federal Criminal Police (BKA) revealed that the body has information on 410 leads on possible terrorists among asylum seekers in Germany. "Given the ongoing immigration to Germany, we must assume that there could be active and former members, supporters and sympathizers of terrorist organizations or Islamist-motivated war criminals among the refugees,” the BKA told the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung.
Germany – Germany’s interior minister on the 11 Aug 16 unveiled proposals to boost security after recent attacks, including making it easier to deport foreigners deemed dangerous and stripping dual nationals who fight for extremist groups of their German citizenship. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere’s plans also include creating several thousand jobs at federal security services over the coming years and making “promoting terrorism” a criminal offense. Four attacks last month included two carried out by asylum-seekers and claimed by ISIS. Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Germany won’t be deflected from giving shelter to people who deserve asylum, but also pledged to do “everything humanly possible” to keep the country safe. “A lot of people ... are worried about further attacks. That is understandable,” de Maiziere said. “No one can guarantee absolute security, but we must do what is possible.” He said Germany will consider joining other countries in screening the public social-media profiles of people being admitted to the country under formal resettlement programs and would start a pilot project to judge its effectiveness. De Maiziere also wants to strengthen German authorities’ ability to probe the darknet, an area of cyberspace invisible on the open internet. The minister proposed making it easier to take foreigners who have committed crimes or otherwise are deemed to be dangerous into pre-deportation custody, making “endangering public security” a ground for jailing them. That’s meant to make it easier to ensure people who are obliged to leave the country actually do so. He said it’s already possible to strip German citizenship from dual nationals who fight for foreign armies, so it’s reasonable to apply the same rule to those who fight for a “terror militia” abroad. De Maiziere also pointed to ongoing efforts to toughen German and particularly European Union weapons laws. Two of the attacks in a weeklong period starting 18 Jul 16 - an axe rampage near Wuerzburg that wounded five and a suicide bombing that injured 15 outside a bar in Ansbach - were the first in Germany to be claimed by ISIS. Both attackers, asylum-seekers who arrived over the past two years, were killed. In two other attacks - a shooting by a German-Iranian 18-year-old in Munich that claimed 10 lives, including the assailant’s, and the fatal stabbing of a woman by a Syrian asylum-seeker at a restaurant in Reutlingen - the motive is still unclear but Islamic extremism is not suspected. The attackers in Ansbach and Munich had received psychiatric treatment in the past. In response, de Maiziere said the government will discuss with doctors ways to “minimize dangers to citizens as far as possible” but stressed that patient confidentiality rules will be upheld. In Germany, doctors can face a fine or up to a year in prison for breaching patient confidentiality, though existing rules already allow them to do so “in order to safeguard a higher-ranking legally protected interest.” De Maiziere said he was limiting himself to proposals that could be implemented quickly, and said he considered them “politically reasonable” for the centre-left junior party in the conservative Merkel’s governing coalition. De Maiziere is a member of Merkel’s party, the Christian Democrats. He said he hopes that many of the measures can be introduced before a national election expected in Sep 17. Some Christian Democrats, keen to bolster the party’s law-and-order credentials ahead of the national election, as well as two state elections next month and three next spring, have called for further measures such as a ban on all-body veils worn by some Muslim women. De Maiziere made clear, however, that such a ban is “constitutionally problematic” and isn’t in the cards. “You can't ban everything that you reject,” he said.
Italy – Italian authorities on the 12 Aug 16 ordered the expulsion of a Tunisian national suspected of planning an attack at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, according to media reports. Bilel Chiahoui, 26, was arrested on the 11 Ag 16 after posting messages on social media praising those behind the extremist attacks in Europe and saying he would attack the Tuscan city’s famous monument, a huge tourist attraction. His expulsion order was signed by a judge on the 12 Ag 16 according to a police report, which said there was “evidence the Tunisian sympathized with extremism and ISIS.” The police statement did not provide details on the target of the suspected attack. There has been mounting concern about the possibility of Italy being hit by “lone wolf” terror attacks of the kind seen in neighbouring France and Belgium. Recent weeks have seen a string of suspected Islamists expelled from the country on the order of Interior Minister Angelino Alfano.
Switzerland – Police in Switzerland say a Swiss man set a fire and stabbed people on a train in the country's northeast, wounding six people as well as himself. Police in St. Gallen say the incident happened at 1420 hrs local time on the 13 Aug 16 as the train neared the station in Salez, near the border with Liechtenstein. They say the 27-year-old suspect had at least one knife and poured out a flammable liquid, which caught fire. Police say the injured included a 6-year-old child, three women aged 17, 34 and 43, and two men aged 17 and 50. Some of the injuries were said to be serious but there were no further details immediately. Police were investigating the attacker's motive. Switzerland's 20 Minuten newspaper reported on its website that police did not believe the incident was terrorist-related. In July, a refugee from Afghanistan attacked four tourists on a German train, then stabbed a woman as he fled from the train. All survived. Police shot and killed the attacker. Later in the same month, a teenager armed with an axe and knife attacked passengers on another train in Germany, injuring a score of people. He too was shot and killed by police as he tried to escape from the train. Last September, a heavily armed gunman opened fire on a high-speed Amsterdam-Paris train, but he was overpowered by two young American soldiers and their companion. 361 COMMENT: So far there has been no further response from the Swiss authorities regarding this attack, nor any information regarding the individual who carried it out. Until such times as information is forthcoming an open mind must be kept before a decision can be made based on facts. COMMENT ENDS
United Kingdom – Britain is well prepared to prevent terrorist attacks similar to those which took place in France and Germany in recent weeks, but such an attack in Britain remains a question of “when, not if,” Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the commissioner of the Metropolitan police has said and was reported on the 1 Aug 16. The Telegraph reports that Hogan-Howe said he was hoping to reassure the British public in the wake of recent terrorist attacks on the continent, but he admitted that the reality of the situation made it impossible to guarantee that there would be no terrorist attacks in Britain. “I know that with each new outrage and especially those on our doorstep in Europe, there is a greater sense of fear that Britain will be the next victim in this wave of cruel and mindless mass murder,” he said. “I feel and understand that fear and as the police officer in charge of preventing such an attack, [I] know that you want me to reassure you. I am afraid I cannot do that entirely. “Our threat level has been at severe for two years – it remains there. It means an attack is highly likely. You could say it is a case of when, not if.” Hogan-Howe said everyone had watched the recent terrorist attacks with “a terrifying and depressing sense of horror and dread.” However, despite people’s growing concerns, he said there were “lots of things working in our [the U.K.’s] favour.” The relationship between MI5, MI6, and police was a “world beater,” he said, which had helped prevent terror incidents since the murder of Lee Rigby in 2013. He also noted that the United Kingdom is an island and has strict gun controls as contributing factors, and referenced “the British way of life and culture.” “Firstly, the vast majority of our officers are unarmed. I truly believe this gives us a far healthier relationship with the people we police. Our neighbourhood officers — the ones who know their streets, who know their environment and who know many of the names of the people in their communities — are our major weapon. They are our eyes and ears on the street. “Secondly, it is our tolerance and acceptance. Our approach to Muslims is no different because these attacks purport to be committed in the name of Islam. We don’t stigmatize the millions of British Muslims whose values and faith completely reject the terrorists’ litany of hate.” Hogan-Howe highlighted specific steps which were implemented after last November terrorist attacks in Paris. The number of firearms officers has been increased by 600 to 2,800 and the number of specialists available immediately, 24/7, to tackle any terrorist threat, had risen three-fold, he said. “I realize that some of what I am telling you today is not reassuring,” Hogan-Howe said. “I hope that some of it is more so. The threat we all face is very real, no one watching events in Europe can think otherwise. But it is important that we have a shared understanding of the work that goes on every day to stop attacks happening, and to prepare for the time when we are faced with this terrifying threat.” The Met commissioner urged people to unite to reject the ideology espoused by terrorists. “We will not become like them, we will not hate, we will not be cowed and because of this, they will never win,” he said.
United Kingdom – Police are investigating an attempted abduction of a soldier at the Aldershot Garrison in Hampshire. Soldiers based at the garrison have been told not to wear their uniform when travelling to or from work until further notice. The briefing came after two men in a blue Renault Clio tried to abduct a soldier near the main Garrison Church, the British Forces Broadcasting Service reported. The incident reportedly happened around 0815 hrs on the 3 Aug 16. A spokesperson from Hampshire Police said: "We were called to a suspicious incident at 0842 hrs today at the junction between Queens Avenue and Hospital Hill, Aldershot. "Two men were seen acting suspiciously in a blue Renault Clio. "At this stage there is nothing to suggest that a crime has been committed but we are looking into why the two men had stopped the car on this stretch of road." They added: "No contact was made between the two men and the person reporting the incident. Aldershot Garrison, also known as Aldershot Military Town, is a major garrison in South East England, located between Aldershot and Farnborough in Hampshire. Established in 1854, Aldershot has long been seen as the home of the British Army. The garrison was established when the War Department bought a large area of land near to the village of Aldershot, with the objective of establishing a permanent training camp for the British Army. Over time, this camp grew into a military town and continues to be used by the Army to the present day. It is home to the headquarters of the Army's Support Command, and it is also the administrative base for the 101st Logistic Brigade. The garrison plays host to around 70 military units and organisations.
United Kingdom/Northern Ireland – Police have found firearms and munitions, including a mortar explosive, during an ongoing two-day search operation on the outskirts of Lurgan in Co Armagh it was reported on the 5 Aug 16. The arms were found in a wooded area near a derelict house. Police believe one of items was a "fully constructed explosive device". Detective Superintendent Karen Baxter said: "These items were in the advanced stages of readiness and some were ready to be used." She said it was a "significant and key" find that had saved lives. Other items included pipe bombs, homemade explosives and three firearms. The train line, closed between Lisburn and Portadown, due to security operation has now re-opened. On the 3 Aug 16 the railway line was closed for up to six hours while a major police search operation took place in Co Armagh. The line was closed from mid-afternoon while the Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI) carried out searches in the Cornakinnegar Road area of Lurgan.
United Kingdom/Northern Ireland – More than 50 officers are to join a new policing unit dedicated to crushing paramilitary gangsterism across Northern Ireland. Investigators will target key loyalist and republican paramilitaries involved in criminality and organised crime, as well as low-level gang members it was reported on the 11 Aug 16. Specialist financial probes will also seek to identify and seize assets gained through criminality. The team will comprise of 56 police officers and six police staff at an annual cost of over £4m a year for five years, the Northern Ireland Policing Board has been informed. This model is considered to be "the optimal resource necessary to deliver effective, long term dismantling of paramilitary groups", the PSNI said. Calls have been made for a more "robust" strategy from Stormont to deal with paramilitarism in the wake of the murder of prominent loyalist John 'Bonzer' Boreland. The 42-year-old's murder last Sunday night (7 Aug 16) has reignited concern over paramilitary criminality. An assessment by the Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI) and MI5 last year of paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland concluded that members of organisations like the Ullster Volunteer Force (UVF), Red hand Commando, Ulster Defence Association (UDA), Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) and Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), "continue to engage in violent activity, both directed by local leadership and conducted without sanction". The assessment, which was commissioned by the Secretary of State, said that "violence and intimidation are used to exercise control at a community level". It also confirmed that they are involved in large-scale smuggling operations, fuel laundering, drug dealing and extortion of local businesses. The PSNI said that the objective of its five-year strategy to tackle paramilitary activity is "the dismantling of organised crime gangs". However, DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson warned that a "culture of fear" is preventing people from reporting paramilitary criminality to police. "You have to have the evidence to bring people before the courts. If a businessman is facing a demand for money the police need that businessman to stand up in court and give evidence. There's a culture of fear that we need to tackle and that's how the paramilitaries operate. Rounding them up is one thing, convicting in court is another," he told the BBC's Nolan Show. Victims campaigner Raymond McCord, whose son was murdered by the UVF, said communities remained to be convinced by the PSNI's determination to stamp out paramilitarism. "When you have police officers watching a gang of UVF men march down a main road and into a housing estate in a show of strength like they did last week on the Shore Road, how can you believe they are really going to tackle paramilitarism?" said Mr McCord. "Until the police show they can stand up to paramilitaries we will see more murders like the murder of John Boreland." Dr Jonny Byrne, a lecturer in criminology at the Ulster University, said that any focused resources could only be a positive development. "However, this can only succeed with support and contribution from communities. People must feel safe reporting crimes and must believe that the police can protect them and ensure paramilitaries are removed from the community," he said. The proposed new policing unit is part of the PSNI's response to a panel report in May 16 on the disbandment of paramilitary groups. The panel was one of the key components of the 'Fresh Start' agreement. In June the PSNI received £1.1m funding to increase its capability to tackle criminality associated with paramilitary groups. This money is being used to create an investigative team with an inspector, two sergeants, eight constables, a financial investigator and an analyst. It is understood this team will join the new unit when it is formed.