A Snapshot of Terrorism this Week in Europe
In terms of terrorist attacks and plots in Europe, a survey of the last week would seem illustrative of a continuing and dangerous trend as the Islamic States comes under pressure and pending defeat in Syria and Iraq. But Islamic State and Islamic-inspired terror was not the only culprit in increased European insecurity with terror plots represented by both right and left-wing terror groups, long a feature of Cold War-era terror on the continent.
In United Kingdom, security services in the last day have revealed that they have foiled 13 terror attacks in Britain over the past four years. To high-lite the complexity of the threat it was announced just recently that the terrorist threat included crossing by ferry from Northern Ireland to Scotland that passenger information from ferry companies was "incomplete and unreliable," and that since 2014 the terror threat in Scotland has been "severe." In Belgium, a confidential report into terror measures has revealed that the Brussels district of Molenbeek has some 51 organizations with suspected ties to terrorism. France has seen two incidents this past week from very different terror groups. On Saturday a self- radicalized North African, French national, assaulted a soldier at the Orly Airport in Paris and was gunned down by security forces. Earlier in the week a Greek-based anarchist group Conspiracy of Cells of Fire sent a parcel bomb to the International Monetary Fund offices in Paris.
The Conspiracy of Cells of Fire also reportedly tried to assassinate the German Finance Minister with a similar parcel device and may have sent others to foreign officials and leaders. It was reported in the last day that a suspected German jihadist was detained after attempting to buy a powerful crossbow capable of firing a bolt at a velocity of 500 feet a second. A search of his apartment found propaganda and terror manuals from Islamic State and evidence he had been preparing to make explosives. Earlier in the week, a major shopping center in Essen Germany was sealed and secured after German police received warnings of a possible terror plot, with two accused suspects arrested. German anti-terror forces sealed off Dusseldorf train station after reports of an attack involving a man armed with an axe attacked five people. Additionally, someone attempted to butcher a senior citizen with what was reported at the time as a machete or large edged weapon. A suspect has been detained but the motive for the attacks is still under investigation.
To the South, Spanish police announced early last week that they had recovered some 10,000 assault rifles, pistols, machine guns, and revolvers, as well as 400 rounds of ammunition and hand-grenades. Five suspects were arrested in the Northern part of Spain and $90,000 was recovered by police. The raids, in Girona, Biscay and Cantabria, targeted a gang trafficking firearms destined to be sold to terror groups in Spain, France and Belgium. In Turkey, some 13 terrorists were killed in anti-terror operations in southeastern Turkey over the last week in some 230 operations against various terrorist groups and 11 others surrendered to authorities. Dozens of other suspected terrorists were detained on charges relating to terrorist organizations including: 70 of them to the Islamic State, 28 to the Fetullah network and 28 others to leftist terrorist groups. Turkish security forces seized 65 different types of weapons including: 34 of them heavy firearms, 15 hand-grenades, and 19 improvised explosive devices.
In summary, France, German, Belgium and Turkey continue to appear as the focus of various Islamic State-inspired terror operations around firearms, edged weapons, improvised explosive devices. The potential for crossbow and bow style attacks has re-emerged with Islamic-inspired groups due to the ease of both acquisition and utility, and parcel bombs in terms of left-wing terror groups appear to be back in vogue. Not included in this quick snapshot of terror-related events are accusations of terror type attacks by either Russian forces, or their Ukrainian opponents, in the continuing Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the Ukraine Civil War. Nor does it included questionable shootings and bomb attacks in Sweden, where as we are told there are no terrorist attacks, only acts by criminal gangs. But it was reported, that Swedish security forces are worried about ‘Joe Cox’ style attacks in the lead up to elections next year, by both right-wing and Islamic-inspired terror groups. In the end, given what we have seen on Europe’s doorstep in Syria and Iraq, the worst is yet to come from commercially available drones, vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices and chemical weapons.