Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 4 August 2020

More than 1,000 terrorists arrested across Europe as 119 plots uncovered

Almost all 2019 terrorism attack deaths in Europe were caused by ISIS, report reveals

Dozens of people were injured in terror attacks in Europe last year, report reveals. EPA
Dozens of people were injured in terror attacks in Europe last year, report reveals. EPA

Almost 120 terrorist plots were uncovered across Europe last year, resulting in more than 1,000 arrests.

ISIS was responsible for all but one of the 10 people killed.

The latest figures covering terrorist incidents in 2019 have been revealed in Europol's EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report.

In total, 119 terrorist attacks were foiled, failed or completed last year in 13 EU countries, also resulting in 27 people being wounded, 26 of them by ISIS.

The 27th was hurt in a far-right terrorist attack.

The attacks led to 1,004 people being arrested on suspicion of terrorism-related offences in 19 EU member states, with Belgium, France, Italy, Spain and the UK reporting the highest numbers.

They include the London Bridge attack last November, in which convicted terrorist Usman Khan stabbed five people, killing two.

Khan had been released from prison early after serving a sentence for plotting to blow up the London Stock Exchange.

Margaritis Schinas, vice president for Promoting our European Way of Life and head of the European Commission’s work on developing a European Security Union Strategy, said the EU needed to strengthen its counter-terrorism measures.

“Terrorism continues to be a threat for the world, Europe, our citizens, our security and our way of life," Mr Schinas said.

"More than ever, the EU needs to intensify its counter-terrorist measures, information sharing and law-enforcement co-operation on the ground and online.

"We will present shortly a new EU Security Union Strategy to set out the areas where the Union can bring added value to support member states in ensuring security, from combating terrorism and organised crime, to preventing and detecting hybrid threats, to cyber security.”

Ylva Johansson, EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, said Europe faced a continued terrorism threat.

“We cannot afford to lower our guard in fighting terrorism threats," Ms Johansson said.

"Having law-enforcement capabilities, tools and cross-border co-operation that are fit for the digital age is key.

"That way, every person in the EU, irrespective of background, should feel safe against these threats."

The report revealed that the number of ISIS attacks have decreased but right-wing and left-wing attacks increased in 2019.

In 2019, three EU member states reported a total of six right-wing terrorist attacks – one completed, one failed and four foiled – compared to only one in 2018.

And several attacks not classified as terrorism under national law, committed by right-wing extremists, were reported in Germany. They killed three people.

In a far-right attack last year in Christchurch, New Zealand, 51 people were murdered in two mosques.

Catherine De Bolle, executive director of Europol, said right-wing extremists had increased people's fear of attacks.

“While many right-wing extremist groups across the EU have not resorted to violence, they contribute to a climate of fear and animosity against minority groups in our EU cities," Ms De Bolle said.

"Such a climate, built on xenophobia, hatred for Jews and Muslims, anti-feminism and anti-immigration sentiments, may lower the threshold for some radicalised individuals to use violence against people and property of minority groups as we have witnessed all too often in recent months.

"My thoughts are with those people and their families who in 2019 suffered the consequences of terrorist and extremist violence.

"The ultimate goal of law-enforcement officers is to save lives and minimise the number of victims of intolerance and political violence.”

The report revealed that the 26 left-wing and anarchist terrorist attacks in 2019 reached the same level as in 2016 and 2017 after a decrease in 2018.

All took place in Greece, Italy or Spain.

The number of arrests on suspicion of left-wing or anarchist terrorism in 2019 more than tripled, compared to previous years, from 34 in 2018 to 111 in 2019, due to a sharp increase in Italy.

Updated: June 24, 2020 03:46 PM

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