Other key points of the report:
· Any EU member states involved in the US-led coalition against IS, not just France and Belgium, could be targeted.
· Same modus operandi as in previous attacks the most probable scenario.
· IS expected to start planning and dispatching attacks from Libya. Increase in contact between terrorists and career criminals.
· As well as IS, al-Qaeda-affiliated and other groups continue to pose a serious threat.
Significant European Attacks
January 2015 - Massacre at the Paris office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and siege at a Jewish supermarket
November 2015 - Attacks on Bataclan concert hall and bars and restaurants in Paris. 130 killed
March 2016 - Suicide bombings in Brussels airport and metro leave 32 dead
14 July 2016 - More than 80 people killed after a lorry ploughed into a crowd in the southern French city of Nice during Bastille Day celebrations
18-24 July 2016 - Series of violent attacks in various locations in southern Germany leave 10 dead
26 July 2016 - Priest Fr Jacques Hamel killed in knife attack in French church
361 COMMENT: Over the last few months there have been numerous warnings from different groups and sources regarding terrorist attacks that are expected in Europe. Whilst some may say that all these warnings with no terrorist action will be crying wolf, however, if the warnings do not come then when an attack does occur the government of the country will be criticised for not informing the public. Let’s not take these warnings lightly, they are being reported in the newspapers and in the media for a reason. The public must not be complacent and be aware of what is going on around them. Anything suspicious must be reported to the authorities. This is everybody’s fight not just the governments of the various European countries. COMMENT ENDS
Europe/Da’esh – German authorities recorded 300 attempts to recruit refugees into Europe by April 2016 it was reported on the 2 Dec 16. Islamic State recruiters are targeting vulnerable refugees in Europe to radicalise them in an effort to further polarise the European Union population, counter-terror experts have warned. Europol, the law enforcement agency of the EU, said it was in the interests of Islamic State to inflame the migration crisis and to turn EU citizens against refugees seeking asylum. A number of jihadis are already travelling through Europe for this purpose and German authorities were aware of about 300 recorded attempts to recruit refugees trying to enter Europe by April 2016, Europol said in its report, Changes in Modus Operandi of IS revisited. “Given that it is in the interests of Da’esh to inflame the migration crisis to polarise the EU population and turn sections of it against those seeking asylum, there is a risk of some infiltration of refugee camps and other groups,” the report published on the 2 Dec 16 said. “A real and imminent danger is the possibility of elements of the (Sunni Muslim) Syrian refugee diaspora becoming vulnerable to radicalisation once in Europe and being specifically targeted by Islamic extremist recruiters.” However, Europol said the extent of such infiltration was unknown, making the subject susceptible to exaggeration and exploitation by populist factions and extreme rightwing parties. In the same report, Europol warns that as Islamic State is defeated or severely weakened by coalition forces in its former stronghold of Syria and Iraq, there may be an increase in the number of foreign fighters and their families returning from the region to Europe. The agency said further attacks in the EU, both by lone actors and groups of terrorists, were likely to be attempted – with estimates from some intelligence services suggesting that several dozen people directed by Islamic State might be currently in Europe with a capability to commit terrorist attacks. Gilles de Kerchove, EU counter-terrorism coordinator, said: “We have to be vigilant, since the threat posed by the so-called Islamic State and returning foreign fighters is likely to persist in the coming years. These people are trained to use explosives and firearms and they have been indoctrinated by the jihadist ideology.”
Europe – Foreign fighters as well as “lone wolves” training and preparing terrorist attacks on European soil will be criminalised under new EU-rules to fight terrorism backed on the 5 Dec 16. Civil Liberties Committee MEPs voted by 37 to 4, with 7 abstentions, to back an informal deal on the draft law, struck by Parliament, the Council and Commission on 17 November. For a preparatory act to be criminalised, it must have been carried out intentionally or knowingly, the text says. Parliament’s negotiators inserted a clause stressing that fundamental rights and freedoms must be respected. The deal still needs to be endorsed by Parliament as a whole and EU ministers. Parliament’s lead MEP Monika Hohlmeier (EPP, DE) said “There is no freedom without security. Travelling abroad for terrorist purposes, training or being trained for them, inciting terrorism or financing terrorist activities will be made a crime in all EU member states. This is a very comprehensive framework which implements UN and Financial Action Task Force Directives in the fight against terror.”
The following acts, among others, are to be made criminal offences throughout the EU:
Travelling abroad to join a terrorist group or for training for terrorism, such as foreign fighters travelling to Syria or other conflict zones, or returning to the EU if that the person might constitute a threat, recruitment for terrorism,
Providing or receiving training for making explosives or weapons or noxious or hazardous substances. This provision would also apply to “lone wolves” studying to carry out an attack on their own,
Public incitement to commit terrorism or advocating terrorism, either directly or indirectly through the glorification of such acts, that intentionally caused danger of new offences. (Member states would be required to ensure the prompt removal of online content that constitute public provocation to commit terrorism or, if not possible, block such content while ensuring judicial redress and compliance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights), and
Providing funds to commit or contribute to terrorism (member states would also be required to take measures to freeze or seize such funds).
Stepping up information sharing among member states
Parliament’s negotiators ensured that, for the first time, member states will be obliged to exchange relevant information in relation to criminal proceedings on terrorist offences as soon as possible if the information could be used to prevent future attacks or assist other ongoing investigations or proceedings.
Helping victims of terrorism
Member states would have to put in place emergency response systems in the event of an attack to ensure immediate help is given to victims and their families, for example through national websites and emergency support centres. Help should include medical treatment, emotional and psychological support, as well as counselling on legal or financial matters, including compensation claims. Victims caught in a terrorist attack while visiting another EU country should get help to return home.
The agreement is expected to be voted in Plenary in Feb 17. Member states will have 18 months to ensure that its provisions can be applied. The UK and Ireland will not be bound by the directive, but may notify the EU Commission of their intention to opt-in, if they so wish. Denmark will not be covered by the directive.
Further attacks in the EU are likely to be attempted, both by lone actors and groups, a recent report from Europol’s European Counter Terrorism Centre says. It predicts that if ISIS is defeated or severely weakened in Syria/Iraq, the numbers of foreign fighters returning to Europe will rise.
Germany/Middle East – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar have been supporting fundamentalist preachers and groups in Germany, German foreign and domestic intelligence agencies said on the 13 Dec 16. Religious organizations from those three countries, some connected to these countries’ governments, have been sending preachers to Germany as well as financing the construction of mosques and schools. The Süddeutsche Zeitung reports that the goal of the fundamentalist religious groups in supporting Salafist missionary activities, is to spread the ultraconservative version of Islam in Germany. The German authorities say that there are currently 9,200 people involved in Salafist-related activity in Germany. The intelligence and law-enforcement agencies worry that the Gulf States-funded Salafist missionary activity would increase the numbers of Germans who follow the fundamentalist interpretation of Islam. The German security services believe that there is a connection between the increase in Gulf States-funded fundamentalist activity in German, and the arrival in Germany of hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees from Syria. The fear is that these refugees offer the Salafists easy targets for recruitment.
Possible government ties
The Local notes that the German government has urged the Saudi government to stop supporting radical Islamists in Germany, but that Saudi Arabia has insisted that its religious organizations are a “stronghold” against ISIS. The German intelligence services dismiss that Saudi clam that the religious organizations are independent, saying that the religious groups behind the missionary activity in Germany “are closely linked with state posts in their countries of origin.” The German intelligence agencies, however, stressed that there was no evidence that the religious groups support “violent Salafist structures and networks.”
Influence in schools and real estate
The German security agencies named three religious organizations active in Germany which are supported by states in the Gulf: the Shaykh Eid Charity Foundation from Qatar; the Muslim World League from Saudi Arabia, and the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society (RIHS) from Kuwait. The German domestic intelligence service found that in the case of RIHS there was “essentially no difference” between its missionary work and the spreading of jihadist ideology. In 2012, the group has bought into a German real estate firm, and used the firm to build a Salafist centre in the southern German town of Fellbach. The centre was planned as a platform from which the group could expand its missionary operations in southern Germany, but the town passed a measure blocking RIHS from using the building for the purpose of spreading religious ideology. The United States has banned RIHS in 2008 on suspicion that it was supporting terrorist organizations. In recent weeks, the German authorities have conducted several raids on offices of different Salafist organizations. Last month, the German Interior Ministry banned the Salafist group True Religion, which spread fundamentalist theology in German city centres.
Netherlands – Police have arrested a man in the Dutch city of Rotterdam suspected of planning a terrorist attack, local media reported on the 11 Dec 16. Law enforcement found a Kalashnikov assault rifle and an Islamic State flag while raiding the man’s house. According to various Dutch media outlets, the suspect in question was arrested back on the 7 Dec 16 when an anti-terrorist unit raided his house and found a Kalashnikov assault rifle with two full magazines. An Islamic State flag was also found in the 30-year-old man’s apartment. "He is suspected of preparing a terrorist crime," prosecutors said in a statement, as cited by Reuters. A law enforcement representative added that the man posed “enough” danger to be detained by the authorities. Special Forces also seized four boxes containing highly explosive firecrackers, the suspect’s mobile phone, and some 1,600 euro. National prosecution spokesman Wim de Bruin said that the investigation into the case is “in full progress.” "At this moment we have only one suspect," he noted, though not ruling out further arrests. According to the local Limburger media outlet, police initially received a tip off from Holland’s Algemene Inlichtingen-en Veiligheidsdienst (AIVD) intelligence agency. The man will be in custody for two weeks, according to the Dutch media outlet Telegraaf. While speaking at the meeting of the Ministers of the Organization for the Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) on Thursday, Austria’s minister of foreign affairs warned of a rising threat of terrorism in Europe. Meanwhile, the chief of Britain’s MI6 Intelligence service told reporters during a public address in London that jihadists “are plotting ways to project violence against the UK” and its allies. In Oct 16 the head of the German Federal Office for Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Hans-Georg Maassen, warned in a radio interview that Europe may face a backlash from the international coalition’s successes against jihadists in Syria and Iraq. Maassen said that, confronted by the offensive, Islamic State “may alert its supporters in Europe, that it can lead to violent attacks.” Earlier in Dec 16 France added a new top warning level to its Plan Vigipirate, the nation’s security alert system. The third and highest level, ‘Attack Emergency,’ is expected to be used if an attack is imminent or immediately following one. If this level is declared, special measures will be taken, such as shutting down the metro system and closing roads. Europe has been shaken by several severe terrorist attacks over the past year and a half. On November 13, 2015, a wave of bombings and shootings killed 130 people and injured hundreds more in the French capital, while, in March of this year, suicide attacks at the airport and a metro station in Brussels left dozens of people dead and more than 300 injured.
United Kingdom – The scale of the terrorism threat to the UK is "unprecedented", the new head of MI6 said on the 8 Dec 16. Alex Younger said UK intelligence and security services had disrupted 12 terrorist plots since June 2013. He said many of the threats came from ungoverned spaces in the Middle East - namely Iraq and Syria. Mr Younger also warned that "hybrid warfare", which includes cyber-attacks and subverting democracy was becoming an "increasingly dangerous phenomenon". "The risks at stake are profound and represent a fundamental threat to our sovereignty," he said. "They should be a concern to all those who share democratic values." In his first public speech since taking up the post of "C", he warned that Russia's alliance with President Assad in Syria risked alienating people who needed to be brought onside if extremists are to be defeated. "We cannot be safe from the threats that emanate from that land unless the civil war is brought to an end," he said. Mr Younger said the Islamic State group had exploited the situation in Syria to fortify its stronghold in the region and wage a war on the West. He added IS, also known as ISIL or Da’esh, had a "highly organised external attack planning structure" which was plotting attacks against the UK and its allies "without ever having to leave Syria".
United Kingdom/Northern Ireland – Aidan O'Driscoll (37), nicknamed 'The Beast', died during emergency surgery just over an hour after being shot three times in an ambush style attack in Blackpool it was reported on the 8 Dec 16. Just three years ago the Ballyvolane native had survived another gun attack. Mr O'Driscoll was shot in the legs during a 2013 Cork attack after what Gardaí believed was a punishment operation carried out by fellow dissident Republicans. At one point, he was suspected to have served as chief of staff for the Real IRA in Munster. The fatal shooting took place in a quiet residential area. He was shot outside an apartment complex off the Commons Road in Blackpool in Cork, not far from a local church. The attack took place shortly before 1700 hrs and is understood to have involved a lone gunman and an accomplice who acted as a getaway driver. Locals reported hearing several loud bangs and seeing a man, apparently masked, running from the scene. He is then believed to have fled the area in a waiting car driven by another man. Initial reports are that Mr O'Driscoll realised he was being ambushed and attempted to flee, only to be shot in the back with a handgun. He was then shot a number of times as he lay wounded on the pavement. A vehicle was later found a short distance away, close to the North Monastery, having been set on fire. Mr O'Driscoll was treated at the scene by paramedics before being rushed to Cork University Hospital (CUH). It is understood he suffered at least three gunshot wounds to the back. He died while undergoing emergency surgery at CUH. Mr O'Driscoll was convicted before the Special Criminal Court in 2005 of being a member of the Real IRA. He received a three year prison sentence for being a member of the dissident group on the 13 Dec 03. Four other men were also convicted of Real IRA membership in a combined trial. However, Mr O'Driscoll's conviction was subsequently overturned by the Court of Criminal Appeal in May 2008. The court quashed the convictions on the basis the Special Criminal Court did not have jurisdiction in the matter because the men were not charged "forthwith." Mr O'Driscoll was the only one of the five who had been in custody. During the 2005 trial, a senior Garda gave evidence that Mr O'Driscoll was part of a feared active service unit of the Real IRA in Munster. It was also believed Mr O'Driscoll had been closely allied to Alan Ryan who was shot and killed in Dublin in 2012. Gardai stressed that they are keeping an open mind as to the possible motive for the attack. However, the primary theories are that it was either a revenge attack against Mr O'Driscoll linked to an earlier feud or part of a deadly escalation in a turf war within the dissident Republican ranks.
United Kingdom/Far Right Group – A British neo-Nazi movement is to become the first far-right group to be banned under terrorism laws in the UK. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said National Action was "a racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic organisation". An order laid in Parliament to proscribe the group - making it a criminal offence to join or support it comes into effect on the 16 Dec 16. It will be the first time a group engaged in extreme right-wing activities has been proscribed. Under the Terrorism Act 2000, the home secretary can proscribe an organisation if it is believed to be "concerned in terrorism". National Action describes itself as a "National Socialist youth organisation" and says its movement is aimed at the "broken right-wing". Ms Rudd said the group had "no place" in Britain. She said: "National Action is a racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic organisation which stirs up hatred, glorifies violence and promotes a vile ideology, and I will not stand for it." Proscription makes it a criminal offence to belong to the organisation, arrange meetings in support of the group or wear clothing or carry articles in public which arouse reasonable suspicion. Penalties for proscription offences can be a maximum of 10 years in prison and an unlimited fine. On its website, National Action said it carries out "demonstrations, publicity stunts, and other activities" to spread the message of "National Socialism". About a quarter of the cases being handled by the government's counter-extremism programme are for right-wing radicalisation.
National Action (UK)
The National Action flag, inspired by the Sturmabteilung logo and the British Union of Fascists’' flag.
National Action is a neo-Nazi and British nationalist youth movement. The group is secretive, and has rules to prevent members from talking openly about the organisation. Due to the secretive nature of National Action, it is not clear who the leader of the organisation is. Former National Front member Ashley Benn (pseudonym Tommy Johnson) has been referred to as the organisation's leader, and is thought to be one of a number of activists behind National Action's founding document. However, an investigation by the Daily Mirror found Benjamin Raymond, age 25 in June 2014, to be the leader of National Action. He is a former double-glazing salesman who graduated in Politics from Essex University in 2013, and has been keen on attracting university-educated people to the British far-right. By 2014, he had written on his blog: "There are non-whites and Jews in my country who all need to be exterminated. As a teenager, Mein Kampf changed my life. I am not ashamed to say I love Hitler." Raymond told BBC News in 2015: "The source of all of the conflict in society is all the different racial groups that have been brought here. They have been brought here to create a people who are deracinated and easier to control". Another member was found to be 19-year-old Alex Davies of Swansea, who withdrew from a first-year course in philosophy at Warwick University in June 2014 after his involvement in National Action was revealed. A university spokesman said to the Mirror "Any such allegations are taken seriously." Davies had joined the Young BNP at 16, but found the group to be in "disarray". He describes the difference between the two groups as: "We're targeting universities regularly. That's something the BNP never had. We've built something in a few months the BNP didn't have in 20 years." A current senior spokesperson for the organisation is Jack Renshaw, a former Youth BNP activist currently facing criminal charges over incitement to racial hatred.