|Europol last week published its EU Terrorism Situation and Trends report 2012.|
The TE-SAT provides “facts and figures regarding terrorism in the EU, while also seeking to identify trends in the development of this phenomenon”. The 2012 report identifies a “highly diverse terrorism picture”, with terrorist activities assessed in the categories of religiously-inspired terrorism; ethno-nationalist and separatist terrorism; left-wing and anarchist terrorism; right-wing terrorism; and single issue terrorism.
The TE-SAT report finds that the internet has become “the principal means of communication for terrorist and violent extremist individuals and groups”. It also concludes that the “threat of violent right-wing extremism has reached new levels in Europe and should not be underestimated.”
The report notes among its trends and future outlook the “wide diversity of threats posed by terrorist and violent extremist groups” and that “religiously inspired terrorism will continue to be largely driven by sustained geo-political developments and changes in the Middle East, the Sahel region and the Horn of Africa”.
Some of the key findings of the report include the following:
• The number of terrorist incidents and arrests continue to fall, but overall activity relating to terrorism and violent extremism still represents a significant threat to EU Member States…In 2011, a total of 174 attacks were still executed, 484 individuals were arrested and 316 individuals were charged with terrorist-related offences.
• As in 2009 and 2010, the majority of reported verdicts in 2011 [for concluded court proceedings] relate to separatist terrorism.
For the categories covered in the report, the following is observed:
• In 2011, no al-Qaeda affiliated or inspired terrorist attacks were carried out in EU Member States
• The number of individuals arrested for offences related to violent jihadist terrorism dropped from 179 in 2010 to 122 in 2011
• More than half of the arrested individuals were non- EU nationals.
• The most significant attack plots in the EU during 2011 centred around home-grown groups based in Germany and the UK.
• Twelve individuals from Birmingham, arrested in September and November 2011 in the UK, were charged with terrorism offences, including preparing for an act of terrorism in the UK, providing money for the purposes of terrorism, and failing to disclose information about potential acts of terrorism. This British-based home-grown group likewise demonstrated strong links to Pakistan. Other home-grown plots with less sophistication underline the potential of even simplistic attacks to impact upon the EU, as well as the unfaltering determination of home-grown violent jihadists to strike.
• Religiously-inspired terrorism will continue to be largely driven and sustained by geo-political developments and changes in the Middle East, the Sahel region and the Horn of Africa.
Ethno-nationalist and separatist terrorism:
• 110 attacks carried out in EU Member States
• 247 individuals arrested for separatist terrorism related offences in EU Member States
Left-wing and anarchist terrorism:
• 37 terrorist attacks carried out in EU Member States
• 42 individuals arrested in EU Member States
• The threat of violent right-wing extremism has reached new levels in Europe and should not be underestimated.
• The threat from right-wing terrorism and violent extremism comes from undetected lone actors or small groups rather than established extreme right-wing groups
• One right-wing terrorist attack in EU Member States.
• Suggestions made in open sources that the attacks in Norway in July 2011 were acts of right-wing terrorism, or had links with right-wing extremist groups in the EU, have not been substantiated.
Single issue terrorism:
• Increased cross-border cooperation between several types of violent extremist groups is a cause for concern.
The report confirms trends reflected in previous reports that although still an issue in Europe, ‘religiously-inspired’ terrorist attacks pose a decreasing threat to the EU, with none taking place in Europe in 2011. Since 2006, religiously-inspired violent extremism has been responsible for just 10 out of 2150 terrorist attacks in Europe.
It is also interesting to note that the report excluded the Norway attacks from its analysis on right-wing terrorism, dealing with it in the section on ‘lone actors’. This is surprising given the overtly cultural-supremacist, anti-Islam outlook of Anders Behring Breivik, the perpetrator of the attacks, and the right-wing, anti-immigrant, Eurabia perspective highlighted in his ‘manifesto’.
The TE-SAT report reflects in part the findings of the select committee inquiry into the ‘Roots of Violent Radicalisation’ which too noted the growing threat posed by far right extremism, and the fact that “individuals from many different backgrounds are vulnerable, with no typical profile or pathway to radicalisation.”
The 2012 TE-SAT report is available to read here.
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