The European Union’s police agency Europol warns that attacks from Islamic State are only beginning, saying that the terror group will increase activity as more fighters return from Syria.
This year’s analysis by the European Union’s (EU) police agency Europol is clear in its warning that terror attacks from Islamic State are only beginning in Europe.
Europol states that the Islamist threat is growing in Europe because of the return of many of the Europeans who have gone off to Syria and Iraq to fight for Islamic State. Many of these 5,000 radicalised fighters are returning to Europe with combat skills and real military experience that could translate into further acts of terror, reports Die Welt.
Europol notes in the report that the tactics of Islamic State have diversified from large scale attacks like Paris and Nice, to smaller lone wolf style attacks such as the recent axe attack on a German train.
“Many EU countries have a high risk of attacks by individuals or small groups of Islamists,” the agency reports. Also noted was the increase of internet radicalisation which can radicalise migrants who have become disillusioned with a Europe that contradicts the fictions told to them by people smugglers.
Though at least two of the attackers in the Paris Bataclan massacre came through the Balkan route of migrants, Europol claims that Islamic State largely hasn’t infiltrated the waves of migrants coming into Europe. Security forces did admit that they had found at least 17 Islamic State fighters among migrants, either at reception centres or asylum homes. One Islamic State commander was arrested earlier this year in an asylum home in a rural town in Germany.
The largest danger, Europol says, is the ever increasing amount of Islamic State propaganda available online. Islamist materials on the Internet have already radicalised several underage migrants and Muslims from migrant backgrounds in Germany which lead to small-scale acts of terrorism. The stabbing of a police officer by a 15-year-old girl and the bombing of a Sikh temple in Essen were both carried out by Muslim minors who were radicalised by Islamic State material they had accessed online.
In 2015, 1,077 people were arraigned across Europe for charges related to terrorist activity. This is 303 cases more than the previous year, and the vast majority of all arrests were related to Islamic radical ideologies.
Though some 21 per cent of those charged were acquitted of terrorism, many of them end up in prison for other offences like illegal possession of firearms. One notable case in Germany saw a man up on terrorist charges being acquitted even after police discovered a pipe bomb in his home.