Europe/Da’esh – ISIS has underground cells in the UK, Germany and Italy, a top US intelligence official told reporters on the 25 Apr 16. James Clapper, the Director Of National Intelligence, spoke at a reporters' breakfast organized by the Christian Science Monitor in Washington, DC. When asked whether ISIS had groups in the UK, Germany and Italy similar to those that carried out the Paris and Brussels attacks, Clapper replied: 'Yes they do.' He added that intelligence officials continue to see evidence of plotting on the part of ISIS in these countries, the New York Times reported. Clapper became the country's top intelligence official in 2010, when Barack Obama named him to replace Dennis Blair. ISIS has pledged to attack these three countries, although experts say it is impossible to know where the terrorist group will hit next, the New York Times wrote. Former French intelligence officer Claude Moniquet told the newspaper the UK and Germany were particularly concerned about a potential attack. Hearing that ISIS is conducting activities in Germany, Italy and the UK is 'not new', Matthew Levitt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy told CNN. But Levitt added: 'It's new that Clapper is saying it.' Obama urged European countries to 'do more' in the fight against ISIS during a speech in Hannover, Germany, on the 25 Apr. 'Right now, the most urgent threat to our nations is ISIL, and that’s why we’re united in our determination to destroy it,' the president said. 'But this remains a difficult fight, and none of us can solve this problem by ourselves. Even as European countries make important contributions against ISIL, Europe, including NATO, can still do more.' He urged more European countries to join the military intervention in Syria and Iraq. France, the UK and the Netherlands have conducted strikes in Syria. All three as well as Belgium and Denmark have struck Iraq. Obama also asked for more nations to help strengthen local forces in Iraq and to back the country economically to prevent the spread of extremism. 'These terrorists are doing everything in their power to strike our cities and kill our citizens, so we need to do everything in our power to stop them. And that includes closing gaps so terrorists can’t pull off attacks like those in Paris and Brussels,' the president added. He then urged European countries to share more information with one another, which they do not usually do. 'If we truly value our liberty, then we have to take the steps that are necessary to share information and intelligence within Europe, as well as between the United States and Europe, to stop terrorists from travelling and crossing borders and killing innocent people,' Obama said. He then reminded the crowd that the next NATO summit would take place this summer in Warsaw, Poland.
Belgium/France – Belgium has extradited Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam to face trial in France it was reported on the 27 Apr 16. He was injured and arrested in a dramatic raid in Brussels on 18 Mar 16 after four months on the run. The 26-year-old French national was born in Brussels and lived there before the Paris attacks. Some 130 people were killed and dozens injured in co-ordinated attacks carried out by so-called Islamic State in Paris on 13 Nov 15. The federal prosecutor said Salah Abdeslam had been "surrendered to the French authorities this morning (in execution of the European Arrest Warrant issued by France on 19 March 2016)". It is not immediately clear where he has been taken, although it is known that he was transferred recently from prison in Bruges to the high-security jail at Beveren, near Antwerp. Salah Abdeslam was indicted by Belgian authorities last week over a shoot-out in the Forest area of Brussels in which four police were injured, three days before he was arrested.
Spain/Majorca – The Moroccan man arrested in Majorca accused of recruiting fighters for ISIS and promoting terror attacks in Europe, has been identified as chef and alleged cocaine dealer. Mohamed Harrak, 26, had been working as a chef at a hotel in the tourist resort of Santa Ponsa on Majorca, while allegedly also being involved in selling drugs. Armed police led Moroccan immigrant Harrak away from the home he shared with his family in a rundown neighbourhood of the capital Palma after a dawn raid on the 20 Apr 16. Interior Ministry officials described him afterwards as a 'threat to national security' in a statement, although they didn't name him. They also accused the suspect of recruiting jihadists to fight for ISIS in Iraq and Syria and attempting to facilitate the commission of terror attacks in Spain and other European countries with the approval of ISIS leaders he maintained 'close links' to. In a later statement they said investigators were still investigating whether he was promoting terror attacks. The hotel where he worked in Santa Ponca, which is a popular Irish holiday destination, was not named. His locker at the hotel was searched after the police raid on his family home and a set of scales he is thought to have used to weigh out cocaine he reportedly sold, was taken away. Neighbours at the flat he shared with his mum and two sisters in the Palma neighbourhood of Son Gotleu, where he had been living for around a year, said he led a reclusive lifestyle. Detectives are now sifting through a mass of computer equipment to try to identify the terror recruits he was allegedly in contact with. Harrak, who as well as working as a chef had refereed local basketball games for nearly a decade, was due to be quizzed by a Madrid-based judge via video link from a court in Palma on the 19 Apr 16. The court hearing, his first since his arrest, was being held behind closed doors and was expected to lead to him being remanded in a local jail pending an ongoing judicial investigation by Spain's national criminal court the Audiencia Nacional. As well as computer equipment, a small amount of drugs were taken away from his home during Tuesday's five-hour search. The arrest came as it emerged intelligence agencies believe Islamic State terrorists are plotting to attack tourists on holiday this summer at Spanish, French and Italian resorts. Police sources tried to play down fears sparked by Harrak's detention by insisting there was no evidence he was planning any terror attacks in Majorca. Teresa Palmer, the Spanish's government representative in the Balearic Islands, added: 'I want to send a message of calm and confidence in the work of our security forces.' Regional government vice-president Biel Barcelo insisted: 'The islands are still a safe place.' Toni Sales, president of the technical committee of a Majorca-based basketball federation, told a local paper Harrak had refereed for eight years alongside police and Civil Guard officers before claiming last September he was stopping because he was going to Morocco to get married. He said: 'He was very introverted and didn't mix much with others but he wasn't at all religious. 'I know from talking to other refs that he sometimes said things about internet videos about explosives, and on social media he had photos of games of men shooting, but I can't see him placing a bomb and I struggle to see him as a terrorist. 'We have refs who are local police and Civil Guard officers and I would have expected them to act if they had suspected something.' Interior Ministry officials today expanded on their original statement about the arrest with a new press release. A spokesman said in the fresh statement, referring to ISIS by its acronym Da’esh: 'The man now under investigation played an important role in the maintenance of internet groups of a radical jihadist nature. 'They were structured into groups with perfectly-defined different functions, all of them under his supervision. 'He actively participated in two groups. One of them was focussed on searching for people on social media who could be vulnerable to terrorist recruitment. Once they'd been selected, the recruiter contaminated them with radical messages, eliminating those who weren't receptive and focussing only on those who responded positively. 'Once the ideal candidates had been narrowed down, a third phase kicked in. Investigators will now attempt to determine whether the aim was a conspiracy to commit terrorist acts. 'In the second group he played an important role as a catalyst and controller, directing his efforts to the formation of a small contingent destined for Iraq and Syria with the aim of joining the ranks of Da’esh. 'He advised its members how to operate to avoid being detected by the forces of law and order before arriving. 'The detainee was so determined himself to reach the conflict area that he submitted himself to tough physical training as part of what he considered required preparation for his participation in operational acts.' A team of 15 Spanish police officers were involved in the raid on the apartment in the Son Gotleu district of Palma early this morning. The news comes it was revealed ISIS is planning terror attacks across Europe this summer, targeting holidaying tourists by posing as ice cream and T-shirt sellers. German media reports that ISIS is sending jihadists to pretend to sell refreshments before detonating suicide vests and bombs buried under sun loungers at Spanish, French and Italian resorts. The BND - Germany's equivalent of MI6 - learned from its Italian counterpart of the ISIS plots to bring bloodshed to holiday resorts, popular daily newspaper BILD said on the 19 Apr 16. According to the report the Italians were informed of the terror plans from a credible source in Africa. They say the would-be killers had formed 'concrete plans' to pose as refugees serving tourists with drinks and snacks or hawking beach accessories and T-shirts. BILD said the plans involve the use of automatic weapons on crowded waterfronts, suicide bombings and explosive devices buried in sand beneath sun loungers. ISIS, which is squeezed financially as the international coalition ranged against it in the Middle East hampers its movement and military actions, is looking for more soft targets in the west and came up with the holiday bombing campaign. According to BILD the beaches which intelligence chiefs say are definitely targeted include resorts in southern France, the Costa del Sol in Spain and both coasts in Italy. The newspaper quotes a high ranking official: 'It could be a whole new dimension of terror. Holiday beaches cannot be protected.' Last year 38 people, 30 of them British, died when a gunman opened fire on a beach in Tunisia. The threat stems from Boko Haram, the terror group from Nigeria which has allied itself with ISIS and co-operates with the leadership at a high level. It is understood that regular African travellers to Europe, who so far have disguised their loyalty to the fanatics, will be activated for the murder campaign. Seck Pouye, police chief of the Senegalese town of Saly, said: 'These people travel regularly to Italy and other places with visas and documents. They are not illegal because they are viewed as business people and traders. That is what makes them so dangerous.' Germany has so far not issued any travel warnings to its people about a potential terror threat at foreign holiday destinations.
Sweden – Sweden has received intelligence about a possible attack on the capital by ISIS militants, local media reported on the 27 Apr 16 and security services said they were investigating undisclosed information. Newspapers Aftonbladet and Expressen as well as public broadcaster Swedish Radio, citing unnamed sources, said the information related to the threat of an attack, possibly in the capital Stockholm. Expressen reported Swedish security police (SAPO) had received intelligence from Iraq that seven or eight ISIS fighters had entered Sweden with the intention of attacking civilian targets. A security police spokeswoman said she would not comment on any specific details of a threat, but said it was working with regular police as well as national and international partners. "Security police are working intensively to assess received information, and it is of such a nature that our judgement is that we cannot dismiss it," she said. An Iraqi security source said six Iraqis had left Iraq in February 2015 and entered Sweden via Turkey. The ringleader is a veteran insurgent who was close to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of ISIS forerunner al-Qaeda, and current ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the source said. He was imprisoned multiple times by US forces in Iraq during their occupation. "They want to conduct special operations to force Sweden to withdraw from the international military coalition (against ISIS)," the source said, referencing recent attacks in Paris and Brussels. Sweden has not been hit by a large-scale militant attack, but a man is currently is awaiting a verdict for allegedly building a suicide bomb with the intent of staging an attack in Sweden. In 2010 a suicide bomber died when his bomb belt went off prematurely in central Stockholm. Norwegian public broadcaster NRK reported Norwegian police were assessing whether or not the Norwegian royal family should proceed with a planned trip to Stockholm this weekend to celebrate the Swedish king's 70th birthday, given the supposed threat.