Thursday

25th Feb 2021

Over 500 planned terrorist attacks in EU in 2008

  • Memorial after the Madrid bombings: Spain remains a prominent target (Photo: Wikipedia)

The European Union's law enforcement agency, Europol, counted a total of 515 terrorist attacks carried out or planned in the union in 2008.

"The threat to EU member states of Islamist as well as ethno-nationalist and separatist terrorism remains high," Mariano Simancas, deputy director of Europol, said on Thursday (16 April).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"Law enforcement agencies must stay alert in order to prevent and to keep trying to dismantle terrorist groups and structures," he added.

Of the 515 attacks carried out or only planned, 397 were by separatist movements, of which 97 percent were in Spain and France.

In 2008, four people, including a law enforcement officer, died in the EU as a result of terrorist attacks that were carried out by the Basque separatist group ETA in Spain said the Hague-based Europol.

France also had to contend with Corsican separatist terrorism, while in Greece, the use of violence by the Epanastatikos Agonas or Revolutionary Struggle has escalated.

Irish nationalism also remains a concern as evinced by the killings in Northern Ireland this year of two British soldiers and a policeman by different IRA splinter groups.

Islamist threat

Despite the dominance of nationalist and separatist groups in the EU, Mr Simancas said Islamist terrorism – considered to be the greatest threat at the global level – was also a major concern in Europe with Islamist terror cells remaining active within the EU.

One attack by this type of group was perpetrated in 2008 with only the terrorist being injured at a restaurant in Britain when the bomb exploded too early.

But many other attempts were foiled, said Mr Simancas, citing examples in Germany and Italy and 187 arrests in France, Britain and Spain.

"Most are men organised in small autonomous, independent cells that can move easily, which is very worrying," he said. "We're talking about home-made terrorism."

"Only seven European countries notified that they were targeted in 2008 [by Islamist groups], but we're all feeling the threat," he added.

Despite the apparently high number of attacks or planned attacks in the EU last year, the figure of 515 represents a decrease of 23 per cent on the number counted for 2007.

Funding from criminal activities

Europol said illegal sources of funding for terrorism cover a wide range of criminal activities including fraud, counterfeiting, burglary and extortion.

While the majority of the people arrested on suspicion of financing Islamist terrorism were involved in fraud, separatist and left-wing terrorists favour the use of extortion to finance their activities.

Men tend to be the main perpetrators of violence and attack-related activities, but women also play an important role as associates in supporting terrorist groups, said Europol.

Their involvement tends to be in the dissemination of propaganda, facilitation, support and fundraising.

Romania denies forcing migrant-boat back to Turkish waters

Romania's ministry of internal affairs wrote to Frontex claiming it did not engage in any illegal pushbacks of people on rubber boats into Turkish territorial waters. The country says it followed EU engagement rules and Greek orders.

LGBTI fears over new Polish member at EU institution

A letter sent to the European Economic and Social Committee by a group of cross-party MEPs fighting for LGBTi rights expresses fears that a recently-appointed Polish member may try to undermine those rights.

EU condemns Slovenian PM's harassment of journalist

Slovenia's populist prime minister Janez Janša attempted to discredit a Brussels reporter after she published a critical article about the state of media freedoms in the country. The European Commission condemned the PM's language - but refrained from naming him.

MEPs: Portugal 'risks undermining' trust in EU prosecutor

Portuguese justice minister Francisca Van Dunem, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, argued that the Lisbon government was only following the advice of the country's magistrates when pushing for its candidate.

News in Brief

  1. Armenian prime minister denounces 'coup' attempt
  2. UK warns EU against escalating City-of-London battle
  3. Brussels mulls extending data-roaming regime for 10 years
  4. Full list of European firms US forced to ditch Russia pipeline
  5. French diplomat calls Johnson 'inveterate liar'
  6. French town's switch to vegetarian meals prompts backlash
  7. Police seize 23 tonnes of cocaine in Europe's biggest haul
  8. WHO Covax programme delivers first vaccines to Ghana

Feature

Covid-hit homeless find Xmas relief at Brussels food centre

The Kamiano food distribution centre in Brussels is expecting 20 people every half hour on Christmas Day. For many, Kamiano is also more than that - a support system for those made homeless or impoverished.

Top court finds Hungary and Poland broke EU rules

EU tribunal said Hungary's legislation made it "virtually impossible" to make an asylum application. Restricting access to international protection procedure is a violation of EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  3. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!

Latest News

  1. Who are the EU's new Russian deplorables?
  2. Afghan asylum family beaten in Greece, set adrift at sea
  3. EU leaders face Covid-mutations dilemma at summit
  4. EU sets out plan to mitigate 'unavoidable' climate events
  5. Questions for Germany on EU's Russia strategy
  6. Greenland's snap election exposes global mineral demand
  7. Covid-19 certificates back on EU leaders' agenda
  8. Ethiopia war creating new 'refugee crisis', EU envoy warns

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us