Friday

25th May 2018

EU holds anti-terrorist exercise amid reports of al-Qaeda plot

The EU has tested its crisis co-ordination capabilities in a simulated bio-terrorist attack on a European football championship. The exercise comes amid reports of a real al-Qaeda plot targeting Britain, France and Germany and Norway's arrest of three men planning attacks in Oslo and Copenhagen.

The fifth EU-wide exercise of its kind, conducted between 27 and 29 September 2010, was aimed at testing the co-ordination of crisis responses in the areas of health, transport, border control, public order and civil protection in a hypothetical bio-terrorist attack during the European football championship to be held in Poland and Ukraine in 2012.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • The EU simulation concerned a biological attack on the upcoming Euro 2012 football championship (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

The EU said the tests were "conducted successfully" and that "the lessons learned in particular with regard to information sharing and communication will allow for further improving the crisis coordination arrangements."

News of the exercise came out one day after US and European intelligence agencies on Tuesday (28 September) indicated that Pakistani-based militants with links to al-Qaeda had planned to carry out terrorist strikes in the UK, France and Germany.

The strikes were to be modeled on the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, where a large group of gunmen landed in boats and opened fire on passers-by in several locations at the same time, killing 166 people.

According to the Wall Street Journal, US and European counterterrorism officials have been looking into the plot since August and are currently focusing on a man of unknown age said to be from North Africa and known as "Mauritani." Some operatives are believed to have travelled from Pakistan's tribal warlord-controlled regions via Turkey and Iran to Europe, a former counterterrorism official familiar with the case told the US newspaper.

Asked about the case at a joint press briefing with the EU's Catherine Ashton in Washington on Wednesday, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton said only: "We know that al-Qaida and its network of terrorists wishes to attack both European and US targets."

"This plot was in its embryonic stages," an unnamed British government official told the Associated Press.

The British and German authorities have said that available intelligence does not merit officially raising the terrorist alert level in either country. Pakistan has also played down the reports, saying they are designed to put pressure on Kabul to fight Islamist extremists in its lawless North Waziristan province.

In separate developments in Denmark and Norway, Norwegian police said on Tuesday that two men have confessed to planning attacks on the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten and on the Chinese embassy in Oslo.

The two men are Shawan Sadek Saeed Bujak, a 37-year-old Iraqi Kurd with Norwegian residency, and Mikael Davud, a 39-year-old Norwegian citizen of Chinese-Uighur-minority-origin. A third man, an Uzbek with Norwegian residency has also been charged in connection with the plots.

Jyllands Posten became a target for Islamist anger after publishing satiric cartoons of the prophet Mohammed five years ago. A Chinese crackdown on the Uighur minority in its Xinjiang province ahead of the Beijing Olympics in 2008 increased tensions in the region and outraged the Uighur diaspora.

GDPR - a global 'gold standard'?

The new EU privacy rules are touted as a global 'gold standard' - but Mexico's former data commissioner warns some nations are far from ready.

EU tells UK to stop with Brexit 'fantasies'

After the latest round of Brexit talks, a senior EU official sounded the alarm bell: progress on the key Irish border issue remains elusive, while the London government is chasing pipe dreams.

Analysis

A good day for Russia in Europe

Russian firm Gazprom is a reformed character, the EU commission has said, improving the climate for new pipelines to Europe.

New GDPR enforcer says complaints imminent

The European Data Protection Board is a new EU body tasked with enforcing the EU's privacy laws with powers to impose massive fines. Its head Andrea Jelinek told reporters complaints against companies are expected to be immediate.

Debt relief talks mar Greek bailout exit

While the Greek government has committed to fulfill the last creditors' requirements in the coming month, Europeans and the International Monetary Fund are still far from an agreement on measures to reduce the country's debt in the future.

Opinion

The dangers of resurgent nationalism in Greece

Virulent nationalism in Greece has been stirred up in the context of austerity and renewed negotiations with Macedonia. Recent attempts by the government to address the inequalities suffered by LGBT persons have also been met with a reactionary backlash.

Debt relief talks mar Greek bailout exit

While the Greek government has committed to fulfill the last creditors' requirements in the coming month, Europeans and the International Monetary Fund are still far from an agreement on measures to reduce the country's debt in the future.

Analysis

A good day for Russia in Europe

Russian firm Gazprom is a reformed character, the EU commission has said, improving the climate for new pipelines to Europe.

News in Brief

  1. Italy set to pick eurosceptic finance minister
  2. UK foreign minister fooled by Russian pranksters
  3. Rajoy ally gets 33 years in jail for corruption
  4. Close race as polls open in Irish abortion referendum
  5. Gazprom accepts EU conditions on gas supplies
  6. Facebook tells MEPs: non-users are not profiled
  7. Commission proposes ending France deficit procedure
  8. UK households hit with Brexit income loss

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman requests more lending transparency from European Investment Bank
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  3. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  4. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  5. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  6. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  8. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  12. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach