Sunday

19th Aug 2018

Radicalised Islamists pose-long term EU threat

  • The truck used in the Christmas market attack in Berlin in December 2016 was stolen, killing 12 people and injuring 56. (Photo: Reuters/Pawel Kopczynski)

Europe's estimated 60,000 radicalised Islamic militants, of which around 20,000 are found in France alone, will remain a threat for years to come, according to an expert.

"That is no doubt the main thing which is going to be of a direct concern for years going forward," Jean-Charles Brisard of the Paris-based Centre for the Analysis of Terrorism, told MEPs on Monday (9 April).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Brisard said that while the Islamic State (IS) group may have lost territory in Iraq and Syria, its operational capacity to carry out attacks had not diminished and "remains very much a force to be reckoned with."

He noted that the group has since morphed into a global terrorist network, making the threat more elusive and difficult to tackle.

"Reducing the territory of the Islamic State and thinking that this would cause the threat to simply disappear was misguided," he said.

The group is now implanted in places like Afghanistan, Libya, Philippines, and Yemen.

Few European nationals, who fought alongside the Islamic State, are returning home as people continue to travel to the areas to join terrorist ranks, Brisard said.

Many have either been killed in action, captured, or moved onto other theatres of battle. Some of those returned will have combat experience and training and may carry out attacks.

Since 2012, around 258 foreign fighters have returned to France, he noted, of which most remain detained while awaiting a trial.

He noted that some 50 percent of the perpetrators in Europe were of the nationality of the target country, while around 10 percent of the individuals involved had spent time in other countries, in many cases unbeknownst to the authorities.

"Overall, the Union ... had a terrorist attack of some kind every six days [in 2017]," he said. France had the most, followed by the UK and Germany.

Follow the money, what money?

Operational modes are also now more improvised and weapons becoming increasingly rudimentary.

Vehicles, knives, and home made bombs are among the more common methods of waging terror. Such methods come at little to no expense, posing broader questions on efforts to track and crack down on terror financing.

"Bloody attacks can cost little or nothing in certain cases," Raphael Malagnini, a Belgian federal magistrate working for the prosecutor's office, said at the same EU event on Monday.

Although the Paris attack in November 2015 is estimated to have cost €82,000, he said most European terrorist cells are largely self-financed with small budgets.

Last June, one individual had attempted to blow himself up in the Brussels central train station. The bomb malfunctioned but the following inquiry suggested the perpetrator had spent only a few hundred euros to build the device.

The vehicle used at a Christmas market attack in Berlin in 2016 had been stolen, while the truck used to kill 86 people in Nice in July 2016 had been rented.

Malagnini noted that terror groups have since 2001 spent between $200,000 and $500,000 to carry out attacks compared to the "thousand billion dollars" spent by US authorities to counter them.

A lot of the terrorist money goes on spreading propaganda to secure new recruits, he said.

He also noted that groups like Islamic State have little use of traditional banking methods but instead confiscate assets and exploit natural resources in areas they control.

"The measures when it comes to terrorist financing and combatting terrorist financing present a fairly limited interest in terms of the current threat and also in terms of prevention of those threats," he said.

But Pierre Moscovici, the EU tax and finance commissioner, told MEPs efforts at the EU level are underway to make it more difficult for terror and organised groups to secure funding.

He noted that the EU is tightening rules on cultural goods to make it more difficult for archaeological artefacts looted in place like Libya to find a client base in Europe.

"I count on both co-legislators to adopt this text by the end of this legislative period, I would really urge for this process to be speeded up," he told MEPs.

Another proposal aims to make it more difficult to send more than €10,000 in cash by mail. It also seeks to crack down prepaid cards and on undeclared gold.

EU steps up global counter-terrorism drive

EU foreign ministers vowed to increase the number of projects and financial support in different parts of the world ahead of an EU summit in Brussels, where leaders will focus on security and defence.

EU to crack down on art-funded terrorism

The EU executive has presented measures to crack down on the traffic of cultural goods as part of an effort to cut funding to terrorist groups.

Women and children's role in Islamic State underestimated

Western Europe is estimated to have 5,904 nationals affiliated with the Islamic State inside Iraq and Syria. Of those, around 1,765 have returned of which 47 percent are minors and eight percent are women, says a new report.

EU Commission skirts Italy sanctions on Roma evictions

The European Commission, as guardian of the treaties, declines to sanction Italy's treatment of the Roma following a forced eviction on Thursday of some 300 from a camp in the outskirts of the Italian capital.

News in Brief

  1. Germany and Greece strike deal on taking back migrants
  2. Merkel confronts far-right critics: '2015 will not be repeated'
  3. UN: Predictable disembarkation process urgently needed
  4. Slovenia set to select former comedian as prime minister
  5. Polish president to veto election rule helping big parties
  6. MEPs blast UK 'alphabetical approach' on citizens rights
  7. EU hits back over Salvini's blame for bridge collapse
  8. Poll: Sweden's social democrat-led government set to win again

Opinion

The systemic risk that Europe has to face

One of the biggest systemic risks across Europe, illustrated by Hungary and Poland, is the dominance of the executive power over the judiciary and informal channels of political dependency.

Schengen at stake in Austria-Germany talks

German interior minister Horst Seehofer is in Vienna on Thursday - as his plan to reject some asylum seekers was met by an Austrian threat to close its borders too.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  2. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  3. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  4. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  5. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  6. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  8. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  12. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma

Latest News

  1. EU gets record response on 'summertime' consultation
  2. 'Nativism' and the upcoming Swedish and Bavarian elections
  3. Former Malta opposition leader fears for his life
  4. Women shun EU-funded site for female entrepreneurs
  5. Building a Europe more resilient to terrorism
  6. Brexit talks resume as chance of 'no deal' put at 50:50
  7. US trial sheds light on murky Cyprus-Russia links
  8. Burned cars fuel Swedish election debate

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  4. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  6. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  8. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  9. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  11. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  12. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us