Jihadists Remain Europe’s Biggest Terror Threat Despite Focus on Right-Wing

In this photograph taken on July 8, 2022, a Taliban fighter carries a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) at a road checkpoint near the Bazarak district in Panjshir Province. (Photo by Wakil KOHSAR / AFP) (Photo by WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images)
WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images

A report by Europol examining terrorism within the EU in 2021 has found that jihadists remain the single biggest threat to the bloc, despite an increasingly political focus on right-wing extremists.

Europol’s latest assessment of terrorism within the EU has found that jihadists remain the single greatest danger within the bloc, with there having been over 260 arrests in relation to radical Islam.

This is despite the fact that both politically and within the media, the focus has largely shifted to threats on the right, as well as those posed by opponents of draconian anti-COVID-19 lockdown measures.

“The findings of the [The annual EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report] 2022 confirm that lone actors associated with jihadist and right-wing violent extremism remain the biggest threat associated with potential terrorist and violent extremist attacks in the EU,” the report published on Wednesday reads.

However, while the report’s own introduction lists right-wing terror as being one of the greatest threats to Europe, the publication’s own data shows that there were over four times the arrests made in regards to radical Islam, as well as nearly four times the number of terror attacks that were either completed, foiled, or failed.

Also discussed in the report is the dramatic fall in the number of left-wing terror attacks that were attempted or completed in 2021 when compared with the previous year, falling from 26 attacks in 2019 and 25 attacks in 2020 to absolutely no attacks in 2021.

Despite the massive shift in the numbers, the report attributes the fall, not to a change in attitude amongst Europe’s left-wing, but “a change in classification of incidents by some Member States from terrorist to extremist attacks”, which has removed any attacks in 2021 that would have been otherwise counted from the statistics.

Europe also reportedly dealt with a small amount of what Europol classifies as “Ethno-nationalist and Separatist” terrorism in 2021 from the likes of dissident Republican groups in Ireland, as well as Kurdistani separatists.

In particular, the report mentions that the “Kurdistan Workers’ Party” — or PKK — was active in the likes of Belgium and Germany, a significant distance away from the competed territory located within the borders of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

The report also notes that the Taliban’s success at taking over Afghanistan has influenced Islamist propaganda, and has been used by extremists to promote extremist narratives.

A seemingly disproportionate focus on the right-wing is far from a trend limited to only the institutions of the EU that are looking to fight extremism and terrorism.

For example, a report into extremism published by German officials that described the right as the single greatest threat to the German state last month prompted accusations that government officials were ignoring the violent actions of “fanatical Islam” and the far-left in order to demonise the right.

The minister in charge of the report — the Social Democratic Party’s Nancy Faeser — had previously written for a far-left publication called “Antifa”.

“It is high time that Minister Faeser took off her ideological glasses and faced the challenges across the board,” Thorsten Frei, a senior CDU politician, said in response to the publication of the report.

“As right as it is to intensify the fight against right-wing extremism, it is wrong not to take the threats from left-wing extremism, fanatical Islamism and anti-state efforts that deviate from previous patterns just as seriously,” Frei continued, arguing the “statistics speak for themselves” regarding the dangers these other groups pose to Germany.

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