“We have to be vigilant, since the threat posed by the so-called Islamic State (IS) 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.”
Gilles de Kerchove — EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator (December 2016)
December 3 2016 — EUROPOL warns that militants from Islamic State (IS) will aim to step up attacks on European targets, as they face defeat in the Middle East. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY
RELATED POST: ISIS: 3 Belgian Citizens at the ‘Creation’ Meeting
UPDATE (December 3 2018) — Let us look at the terror attacks attributed to ISIS over the last 12 months in Europe (Dec 2017 – November 2018).
March 23 — Carcassonne and Trèbes attack (France)
May 12 — 2018 Paris knife attack (France)
May 29 — 2018 Liège attack (Belgium)
August 31 — 2018 Amsterdam stabbing attack (Netherlands)
There is no question about it. The number of Islamic State attacks in Europe fell steeply in 2018. (This post uses the Wikipedia page “Islamic terrorism in Europe” as a source.)
According to data collected by George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, the Islamic State carried out 14 successful attacks in Europe (and North America) in 2015, 22 in 2016 and 27 in 2017. So far, it only carried out four in 2018.
The scale of attacks has also fallen. The largest toll in a single attack fell from 130 in 2015, to 86 in 2016, to 22 at the pop concert in Manchester in 2017.
So far in 2018, the worst single-day toll was in the aisles of a supermarket in Trèbes, France, where a man acting in the name of the Islamic State gunned down three people in March 2018. (NYT: Why a ‘Dramatic Dip’ in ISIS Attacks in the West Is Scant Comfort )
According to experts, there is however a caveat. The number of attempted attacks in Europe has remained unchanged.
Data collected by the Center for the Analysis of Terrorism in Paris suggest that while the Islamic State’s capacity may have been diminished, its effort has not.
The number of foiled attacks has remained steady, and so is the number of persons arrested on charges of IS inspired terrorism. Here is a plot of the number of persons arrested.
Some observers believe that several advances had made Western law enforcement agencies better at hunting terrorists: “Closer monitoring of social media. Better understanding of the networks. And better coordination with other countries.”
END of UPDATE
Here are the main findings of the 2016 EUROPOL report:
“From an IS perspective, the terrorist attacks carried out in Belgium and France in 2015 and 2016 were successful and effective. Given this fact and a general assumption that IS retains both the will and the capability to strike again, further attacks in the EU, both by lone actors and groups, are likely to take place in the near future.”
“Further attacks in the EU, both by lone actors and groups, are likely to be attempted. Estimates from some intelligence services indicate several dozen people directed by IS may be currently present in Europe with a capability to commit terrorist attacks.”
“In addition to France and Belgium, all other EU Member States that are part of the US-led coalition against IS may be targeted by terrorists led or inspired by IS.
The most probable scenario is the use of the same modus operandi, including the same types of weapons, used in earlier attacks.
If IS is defeated or severely weakened in Syria/Iraq by the coalition forces, there may be an increased rate in the return of foreign fighters and their families from the region to the EU or to other conflict areas.”
“Counter-terrorism experts expect that IS will start planning and dispatching attacks from Libya.”
RELATED POST: LIBYA: What is going on?
“Modi operandi employed in Syria and Iraq, such as the use of car bombs, extortion and kidnappings may be employed as methods of attack in the EU.
The apparent preference for soft targets means that attacking critical infrastructure such as power grids and nuclear facilities is currently not a priority for IS.
Elements of the Syrian refugee diaspora may be vulnerable to radicalisation once in Europe and may be targeted by extremist recruiters. Given that it is in the interests of IS to inflame the migration crisis to polarise the EU population and turn sections of it against those seeking asylum, some infiltration of refugee camps and other refugee/migrant groups is likely.
Contacts between terrorists and career criminals are generally of a very pragmatic and opportunistic character, and for very specific purposes only. However, the relative incidence of such cases in which there are connections appears to have increased. Typically this is because terrorists are known for previous criminal activity and/or because they make use of organised crime networks in the preparation of attacks, e.g. to obtain false identity documents and/or firearms.”
RELATED POST: Cosa Nostra & ISIS: Weapons and Illegal Immigrants
What should not be overlooked is that IS is not the only terrorist organisation with the intent and capability to carry out attacks against the West, or to inspire individuals and groups residing in EU Member States to do so.
Al Qaeda and / or Al-Nusra affiliated or inspired groups and individuals continue to pose a serious threat to Member States of the EU and to Western interests in general.
UPDATE (December 3 2017)
Let us look at the terror attacks attributed to ISIS over the last 12 months in Europe.
The United Kingdom and France both saw four major attacks carried out. Other targets in Europe have included Belgium, Germany, Russia, and Spain and Sweden. The transcontinental city of Istanbul also saw both bombings and shootings.
Attacks have occurred in countries participating in “Operation Inherent Resolve” — the military intervention against ISIL.
ISIS attacks in Europe — Dec 2016 – Dec 2017
Dec 19 — Berlin Christmas market attack
Jan 1 — 2017 Istanbul nightclub shooting
March 18 — March 2017 Île-de-France attacks
March 22 — 2017 Westminster attack
April 3 — Saint Petersburg Metro bombing
April 7 — Stockholm truck attack
April 20 — April 2017 Champs-Élysées attack
May 22 — Manchester Arena bombing
June 3 — June 2017 London Bridge attack
June 6 — 2017 Notre Dame attack
June 20 — 2017 Brussels attack
July 28 — 2017 Hamburg attack
Aug 9 — Levallois-Perret attack
Aug 17 — 2017 Barcelona attacks
Aug 18 — 2017 Turku stabbing
Aug 25 — August 2017 Brussels attack
Sept 15 — 2017 Parsons Green bombing
October 1 — Marseille stabbing
Europol – number of jihadist suspects arrested in EU countries 2012-2016
IS group to step up attacks on Europe – BBC 02 Dec 2016
EUROPOL: Islamic State to step up attacks on European targets
Two Years Ago — EUROPOL : Islamic State to Step up Attacks on European Targets