Areas of cooperation
Turkey and the EU have been cooperating on issues such as the refugee crisis, security and Syria's war - a situation that appears to have made some member states hesitant to cut ties. As part of a 2015 deal, Ankara received EU funds in exchange for the return of refugees to Turkey, but questions remain over the efficacy of the agreement's implementation in light of the rising tensions. Erdogan, accusing Brussels of not keeping its side of the deal about visa-free travel for Turks, various times threatened to open his country's border with the EU for refugees to pass freely. The EU member states and Turkey also share intelligence and are allies in the coalition fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group. But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sharply rebuffed the bloc in the recent months, stating publicly that his country "does not need the EU" any more. "They do not accept us. But have they put an end to the [membership] process? No. They are wasting our time … If you're honest, make your statement and we will finish the job. We don't need you," Erdogan said in a public address this month. The declining relations between Ankara and the EU took a dive in Mar 17 when the Netherlands, Austria, Germany and Denmark banned Turkish ministers from addressing immigrants and expatriates in rallies within their borders for a referendum that changed Turkey's parliamentary system to an executive presidency a month later. Dutch authorities actively intervened after a Turkish minister tried to reach a consulate in the country to address Turks living there, leading to a diplomatic crisis. Erdogan compared the ban on ministers to "Nazi practices" and called Dutch authorities "Nazi remnants". The members of the European Parliament (EP), an EU legislative body with limited influence over Turkey's membership talks, have at various times called for the process to be suspended in non-binding votes. The latest was in Jul 17 when the EP called on the European Commission, the EU's executive body, and member states to "suspend the accession negotiations with Turkey without delay if the constitutional reform package is implemented unchanged". The constitutional changes, passed in Turkey's Apr 17 referendum, give the president to be elected in 2019 new powers to appoint vice presidents, ministers, high-level officials and senior judges. It allows the president to dissolve parliament, issue executive decrees and impose states of emergency. Following the referendum, far-right parties in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium had called for people with Turkish origins living in those countries to return to Turkey if they voted "Yes". EU member states have been united in their condemnation of the Turkish government's detentions and purges of tens of thousands of people after a failed coup attempt in Jul 16. Local and international rights groups have accused the government of using the coup attempt as a pretext to silence opposition in the country. The government has said that the purges and detentions aimed to remove from state institutions and other parts of society the supporters of Fethullah Gulen, a US-based, self-exiled religious leader on whom Ankara blames the attempted coup
The Turkish government accuses several EU member states of actively supporting "terrorism". Ankara has alleged that EU states are harbouring Kurdish and far-left fighters, as well as people linked to the failed coup. "Germany is abetting terrorists," Erdogan said earlier this year, adding that Berlin did not respond to thousands of documents requesting extradition of suspects wanted by Ankara. The accusation was echoed by other top Turkish officials. The Turkish president has also targeted the governments of Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and non-EU Switzerland for allowing rallies in support of "terrorism" within their borders. In one such rally in Switzerland in March, a banner showing a gun pointed at Erdogan's head was caught on camera.
Since the post-coup attempt arrests started, EU member states have discussed economic sanctions on Turkey, such as cutting EU aid. Last month, Germany's Merkel threatened to restrict her country's economic ties with NATO ally Turkey to pressure Ankara to release eleven German citizens arrested after the coup attempt. They include journalists Deniz Yucel and Mesale Tolu, and human rights activist Peter Steudtner. "We will have to further cut back our joint economic cooperation with Turkey and scrutinise projects," Merkel said. Those threats, however, were never implemented. Austria, another staunch opponent of Turkey's EU bid, has on multiple occasions pushed to suspend talks, only to be rebuffed by other member states. Regardless, the talks have been practically frozen for years, with no progress made. Baydarol said that the European Commission's annual progress report on the membership talks with Turkey, to be released in Nov 17 would be an important follow-up to this weekend's summit, as the report is expected to sharply criticise Turkey. "Taking these criticisms in the report and the Commission's recommendation into consideration, the EU leaders might make a concrete decision on Turkey's EU bid in the coming summits," he said. 361 COMMENT: This will be an interesting summit due to the importance of the roles that Germany and Turkey play currently within the EU. There is the security of the European Union to consider, considering Turkeys global position not only with the EU but with NATO as well. Border control along with immigration control will also play an important factor. As the war with Da’esh comes to a close and with some European countries supporting the Kurds it will be interesting to see how Turkey and the EU react to the current Kurdish issue. However, Erdogan is not doing himself or Turkey any favours when he states that Turkey no longer needs the European Union. This maybe a double bluff because Turkey has no immediate friends is burning bridges with those who could help them but at the same time rebuffing them. Turkey will also need the hard currency from the EU to assist itself. If Turkey was to be suspended then who would help them; Russia? The United States? The Middle East? Friends at this time may be very difficult to come by. COMMENT ENDS
France – French anti-terror agents arrested 10 people on the 17 Oct 17 over a suspected plot to target mosques and politicians, including a government spokesman, a source close to the investigation said. The arrests of suspects aged 17-25 were made in the Paris region and southeast France as part of an investigation into far-right activists, the source said. The nine men and one woman are suspected of links to 21-year-old Logan Alexandre Nisin, a former militant of the far-right group Action Francaise Provence who was arrested in Jun 17 the source said. One source said the woman arrested was Nisin’s mother. Police investigations had unmasked “intentions to commit violent action” of which the details remained unclear, a judicial source said, but that involved “a place of worship, a politician, a migrant, drug trafficking”. Another source named the targeted politicians as government spokesman Christophe Castaner and radical left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon. A Melenchon spokesman complained that the former presidential candidate “was not informed and requests for protection during the legislative elections was rejected”. The suspects, taken into custody for “association with terrorist wrongdoers”, were also thought to be plotting to target migrants as well as mosques. “They were only in the earliest planning stages,” one source said. Nisin was arrested near Marseille on the 28 Jun 17 after posting that he planned to attack “blacks, militants, migrants and scum”. One of the probe sources said investigators had determined that Nisin, who possessed arms and practiced shooting, had the intention of following through with his threats. Nisin came to the attention of the French authorities as the administrator of a Facebook page glorifying neo-Nazi Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in a bomb and gun rampage in 2011 in Norway.
Germany – At the time of reporting on the 21 Oct 17 reports of an attack whereby several people had been wounded in Munich after an unidentified assailant went on a stabbing spree in the southern city. German police said the perpetrator injured at least four people, and warned the public to stay away from the Rosenheimer Platz in the city centre. The victims were lightly hurt in the attack, at the time of reporting the perpetrator was still on the run. Police were searching for a man of about 40 years old and said he apparently acted alone. His motive was not yet clear. Police on Twitter called for residents to provide any information to help catch the suspect and to stay in their homes.
Malta – A car bomb on the 16 Oct 17 killed the journalist who led the Panama Papers investigation there. Daphne Caruana Galizia, 53, died on afternoon of the 16 Oct 17 when her car, a Peugeot 108, was destroyed by a powerful explosive device which blew the vehicle into several pieces and threw the debris into a nearby field, reports The Guardian. The reporter had filed a complaint to police a fortnight ago after receiving personal threats to her safety, local media said. She was known for her work as an investigative journalist and revealing controversial sensitive information, including reports and allegations related to the Panama Papers. A blogger whose posts often attracted more readers than the combined circulation of the country's newspapers, Caruana Galizia was recently described by the Politico website as a "one-woman WikiLeaks". Her blogs were a thorn in the side of both the establishment and underworld figures that hold sway in Europe's smallest member state. Her most recent revelations pointed the finger at Malta's Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, and two of his closest aides, connecting offshore companies linked to the three men with the sale of Maltese passports and payments from the government of Azerbaijan, reports The Guardian. No group or individual has come forward to claim responsibility for the attack. In a statement, Muscat condemned the "barbaric attack", saying he had asked police to reach out to other countries' security services for help identifying the perpetrators. "Everyone knows Caruana Galizia was a harsh critic of mine," said Muscat at a hastily convened press conference, "both politically and personally, but nobody can justify this barbaric act in any way". In a tweet, Muscat said, "This is a spiteful attack on a citizen and freedom of expression. I will not rest until justice is done. The country deserves justice." This is a spiteful attack on a citizen and freedom of expression. I will not rest until justice is done. The country deserves justice –JM. Muscat announced later in parliament that FBI officers were on their way to Malta to assist with the investigation, following his request for outside help from the US government. The Nationalist party leader, Adrian Delia - himself the subject of negative stories by Caruana Galizia - claimed the killing was linked to her reporting. The Panama Papers are 11.5 million leaked documents that detail financial and attorney-client information for more than 214,488 offshore entities. The documents, some dating back to the 1970s, were created by, and taken from, Panamanian law firm and corporate service provider Mossack Fonseca, and were leaked in 2015 by an anonymous source. The revelations by the Panama Papers have shaken politics of many countries. In a case related with the Panama Papers, former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had to step down in July after the Supreme Court disqualified him.
Sweden (20 Oct 17) – A powerful blast detonated overnight at a police station ripped off the building’s entrance. A dynamite-laced apartment doorway blew a chunk of rubble more than 250-feet away, into the living room of a neighbouring building. And a provincial town was put on lockdown after a suspected car-bombing. There have been at least five bomb blasts or scares in Sweden since the early hours of Friday, Oct. 13. These incidents have rocked the Scandinavian nation, and have added fuel to the alt-rights campaign to use the country as a cautionary paradigm of liberal immigration policies gone astray.
Here’s what you need to know.
No one was reportedly injured or killed in any of the incidents.
1. Overnight on Oct. 13, a strong explosion caused extensive damage to an apartment building in the Swedish city of Malmö, which has been experiencing a rise in gang violence and gun murders. In January, the area police chief called for the public's help in clamping down on mafia-like activity.
2. On Oct. 16, police, forensics experts and bomb technicians rushed to the scene after an explosion caused by a suspected car bombing in Malmö.
3. An explosion at a police station in Helsingborg on Oct. 18 damaged the station entrance, and shattered windows of nearby buildings. Police have blamed the attack on criminal networks.
4. The town of Norrköping was placed on lockdown on Oct. 18 after reports of a suspected car bomb.
5. Around 9:30pm on Oct. 19, police received a distress call about a suspected explosive in the stairwell of an apartment building in Malmö.
Why this matters:
Crime in Sweden has become a highly politicized since U.S. President Donald Trump used the country as an example of how more open immigration policies supposedly result in upsurges of crime. In a now widely ridiculed gaffe, the president cited a non-existent incident “last night in Sweden” during a speech in Feb 17. Alt-right talking heads have rallied around the remarks, using any episode of violence in Sweden as evidence that the president presciently exposed the nation’s spiralling moral decrepitude.
What’s being said about it:
Paul Joseph Watson, a contributor at conspiracy website infowars.com said the recent series of bombings highlight how President Trump was lambasted, “only to be proven right.” He added: “Since the country accepted hundreds of thousands of Muslim migrants, low level urban terrorism has become commonplace in Sweden, which has a number of infamous Islamic ghettos." Breitbart, which has lamented Sweden’s ostensible fall from utopia to “grenade attack capital,” has speculated the police station blast was an act of terrorism, even though there is no evidence that any terrorist organization was involved in any of the recent incidents. Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven called the police station blast "an attack against our democracy", and urged cops to get tougher on crime. Malmö police chief Stefan Sintéus has suggested bolstering the local police force with soldiers.
Incidents of reported crime increased marginally from 2015 to 2016, according to the Swedish Crime Survey, which cautions that increased claims don't necessarily mean that crime has surged.
· There is a vast gulf between perceptions of rising crime, and actual crimes.
· Stockholm, Sweden's capital, was just ranked among the world's top ten safest cities.
· Most offenders are Swedish-born. But a government survey shows foreigners are 2.5 times more likely to be suspected of crimes.
· Sweden has accepted the largest number of asylum-seekers per capita of any European nation.
· After an Uzbek asylum-seeker hijacked a truck and ploughed into Stockholm pedestrians, killing five last Apr 17, pressure has been dialled up on the government to reassess its refugee policies.
United Kingdom/MI5 – The UK's intelligence services are facing an "intense" challenge from terrorism, the head of MI5 had warned on the 17 Oct 17. Andrew Parker said there was currently "more terrorist activity coming at us, more quickly" and that it can also be "harder to detect". The UK has suffered five terror attacks this year, and he said MI5 staff had been "deeply affected" by them.He added that more than 130 Britons who travelled to Iraq and Syria to fight with so-called Islamic State had died. MI5 was running 500 live operations involving 3,000 individuals involved in extremist activity in some way, he said. Speaking in London, Mr Parker said the tempo of counter-terrorism operations was the highest he had seen in his 34-year career at MI5. Twenty attacks had been foiled in the last four years, including seven in the last seven months, he said - all related to what he called Islamist extremism. The five attacks that got through this year included a suicide bomb attack after an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena in May, killing 22. Five people were also killed in April during an attack near the Houses of Parliament, while eight people were killed when three attackers drove a van into pedestrians on London Bridge and launched a knife attack in Borough Market. A man then drove a van into a crowd of worshippers near a mosque in north London in June, while a homemade bomb partially exploded in tube train at Parsons Green station last month, injuring 30 people. In some cases, individuals like Khuram Butt - who was behind the London Bridge attack - were well known to MI5 and had been under investigation by the security services. Mr Parker was asked what was the point of MI5 surveillance when someone who had made "no secret of his affiliations with jihadist extremism" had then been allowed to go on to launch a deadly attack. He said the risk from each individual was assessed on a "daily and weekly basis" and then prioritised "accordingly". "One of the main challenges we've got is that we only ever have fragments of information, and we have to try to assemble a picture of what might happen, based on those fragments." He said the likelihood was that when an attacked happened, it would be carried out by someone "that we know or have known" - otherwise it would mean they had been looking "in completely the wrong place". And he said staff at MI5 were deeply affected on a "personal and professional" level when they did happen. "They are constantly making tough professional judgements based on fragments of intelligence; pinpricks of light against a dark and shifting canvas."
'Not the enemy'
Mr Parker said they were trying to "squeeze every drop of learning" from recent incidents. In the wake of attacks in the UK, there had been some, including some in the Home Office, who questioned whether the counter-terrorist machine - featuring all three intelligence agencies and the police, and with MI5 at its heart - was functioning as effectively as previously thought. However, there was no indication of a fundamental change in direction in his remarks, with a focus on the scale of the threat making stopping all plots impossible. "We have to be careful that we do not find ourselves held to some kind of perfect standard of 100%, because that is not achievable," he said. "Attacks can sometimes accelerate from inception through planning to action in just a handful of days. "This pace, together with the way extremists can exploit safe spaces online, can make threats harder to detect and give us a smaller window to intervene." He renewed the call for more co-operation from technology companies. Technology was "not the enemy," he added, but said companies had a responsibility to deal with the side effects and "dark edges" created by the products they produced. In particular, he pointed to online purchasing of goods - such as chemicals - as well as the presence of extremist content on social media and encrypted communications.
He said more than 800 individuals had left the UK for Syria and Iraq.Some had then returned, often many years ago, and had been subject to risk assessment. Mr Parker revealed at least 130 had been killed in conflict. Fewer than expected had returned recently, he said, adding that those who were still in Syria and Iraq may not now attempt to come back because they knew they might be arrested. Mr Parker stressed that international co-operation remained vital and revealed there was a joint operational centre for counter-terrorism based in the Netherlands, where security service officers from a range of countries worked together and shared data. This had led to 12 arrests in Europe, he added. In terms of state threats, Mr Parker said the range of clandestine activity conducted by foreign states - including Russia - went from aggressive cyber-attack, through to traditional espionage and the risk of assassination of individuals. However, he said the UK had strong defences against such activity.
United Kingdom (20 Oct 17) – GCHQ DIRECTOR Jeremy Fleming has waxed lyrical about how bad cyber attacks are in the UK these days, and suggested that investigations into them are playing second fiddle to terrorism tackling. Relative new-boy Fleming said that GCHQ is using its funding and staff to turn into self into a "cyber-organization", and not just an ear-wigging klaxon sounding arrest and react monkey. "Our task in GCHQ is to help make sure that the UK benefits from this technological revolution, by protecting the nation from those who want to use the internet to cause harm. We all derive great benefit from the ease and speed of connecting across the planet and from the additional security provided by default encryption," he wrote in the Telegraph. "But hostile states, terrorists and criminals use those same features - instant connectivity and encrypted communications - to undermine our national security, attack our interests and, increasingly, commit crime." He's right you know, and he doesn't want the GCHQ to get lost in the mires or get left being in the new war fronts. He said that often the UK GCHQ feels like a poor relation. "GCHQ's role has always been to collect and use intelligence to disrupt, divert and frustrate our adversaries. We've been doing this since 1919 and we're very good at it. But we cannot afford to stand still. The Government's investment in a bigger GCHQ gives us a chance to recruit the brightest and best from across our society - as the threat becomes more diverse, so must the workforce that tackles it," he added. "We're using much of that funding to make GCHQ a cyber organisation as well as an intelligence and counter-terrorism one. We have a longstanding mission to keep sensitive information and systems secure. This has a distinguished history, notably in protecting our own secrets in wartime. But it too often felt like the poor relation. Our new mandate, to help make the UK the best place to live and do business online, has transformed that perception."
United Kingdom/Cyber Terrorism (20 Oct 17) – Everyone is familiar with what "terrorism" means, but when we stick the word "cyber" in front of it, things get a bit more nebulous. Whereas the effects of real-world terrorism are both obvious and destructive, those of cyber terrorism are often hidden to those who aren't directly affected. Also, those effects are more likely to be disruptive than destructive, although this isn't always the case.
Cyber terrorism incidents
One of the earliest examples of cyber terrorism is a 1996 attack on an ISP in Massachusetts. Cited by Edward Maggio of the New York Institute of Technology and the authors of Internet: A Historical Encyclopedia, Volume 2, a hacker allegedly associated with the white supremacist movement in the US broke into his Massachusetts-based ISP after it prevented him from sending out a worldwide racist message under its name. The individual deleted some records and temporarily disabled the ISP's services, leaving the threat "you have yet to see true electronic terrorism. This is a promise". While this is a clear example of a cyber-terrorist incident carried out by a malicious, politically motivated individual that caused both disruption and damage, other frequently listed examples fit less clearly into the category of "terrorism". For example, while attacks that have taken out emergency services call centres or air-traffic control could be considered cyber terrorism, the motivation of the individuals is often unclear. If a person caused real-life disruption to these systems, but had no particular motivation other than mischief, would they be classed as a terrorist? Perhaps not. Similarly, cyber protests such as those that occurred in 1999 during the Kosovo against NATO's bombing campaign in the country or website defacements and DDoS attacks are arguably online versions of traditional protests, rather than terrorism. Additionally, in the case of civil war, if one side commits a cyber attack against the other then it can be said to be more of an act of war – or cyber war – than one of cyber terror. Again, where there is a cold war between nations, associated cyber attacks could be thought of as sub-conflict level skirmishes. Indeed, the FBI defines cyber terrorism as "[any] premeditated, politically motivated attack against information, computer systems or computer programs, and data which results in violence against non-combatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents". Under this definition, very few of the tens-of-thousands of cyber attacks carried out every year would count as cyber terrorism.
The future of cyber terrorism
As the number of connected devices increases, the likelihood of a more destructive cyber terrorist incident – something on a par with an attack in the physical world – becomes increasingly possible. The security industry is full of stories and proofs of concept about hacking medical devices, with two particularly famous demonstrations being given by New Zealander Barnaby Jack. This opens up the possibility for targeted assassinations or mass-scale killings carried out remotely and potentially across borders. Similarly, there are concerns self-driving vehicles could be turned into remote-controlled missiles and used in an attack, although the counter argument is that such vehicles will make the roads safer in the face of terrorists driving conventional vehicles into crowds. Another possible style of cyber terrorism is disruption of infrastructure in a way that could potentially endanger life. For example, in 2016 an unknown actor caused a disruption that saw two apartment buildings in Finland lost hot water and heating for a week in the dead of winter. In locations as cold as Finland, actions like this could cause illness and death if widespread and sustained. Nevertheless, the likelihood is most serious cyber attacks will be acts of cyber warfare, rather than cyber terrorism, as nation states have larger and more sophisticated resources at hand.