- Title: Europol warns of IS attacks, says militants may already be in Europe
- Date: 2nd December 2016
- Summary: ZAVENTEM, BELGIUM (FILE - MARCH 22, 2016) (REUTERS) BRUSSELS AIRPORT DEPARTURE HALL IN IMMEDIATE AFTERMATH OF MARCH 22, 2016 BRUSSELS ATTACKS PASSENGER EVACUATION IN PROGRESS
- Embargoed: 17th December 2016 16:31
- Keywords: EU Security Europe Attacks Kerchove Report Europol Islamic State IS
- Location: BRUSSELS AND ZAVENTEM, BELGIUM / PARIS, FRANCE / INTERNET
- City: BRUSSELS AND ZAVENTEM, BELGIUM / PARIS, FRANCE / INTERNET
- Country: Belgium
- Reuters ID: LVA0045B6ZUPZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Islamic State is likely to launch more attacks in Europe, the EU police agency Europol warned on Friday (December 2), with several dozen militants already in place and more possibly arriving as IS faces setbacks in Syria and Iraq.
Speaking after the publication of the report, EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove said it would be a mistake to assume that militants prone to committing attacks are not yet on European soil already.
"It is one element : it's the possibility for those fighters to use the migration flow to sneak into the European Union but it would be a big mistake to just believe that the threat is coming from outside. We have a lot of people prone to radicalisation inside Europe," Kerchove told Reuters from his office at the European Council in Brussels.
He added one of the report's main findings was that sleeping cells could be waiting for an order to strike and that Islamic State continues recruiting on the Internet.
"We have sophisticated networks organised by Daesh (Islamic State) mainly for the time being with people who might have been sent before and may just wait for the right moment to strike but beside that, the physical Caliphate of Daesh is collapsing but we still have the virtual Caliphate," the EU security official said.
In a report on the threat the Islamist group poses to the 28-nation bloc, Europol said the most probable forms of attack would be those used in recent years, from the mass shootings and suicide bombings seen in Paris and Brussels to stabbings and other assaults by radicals acting alone.
Echoing the report's findings, Kerchove said car bombs and kidnappings, common in Syria, could emerge as tactics in Europe.
"Some concern that people were in Syria and Iraq have learned how to use Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device, because that's what Daesh uses in this now asymmetric fight. The second one, as you just said, is the issue of returnees. We still have 2,500 Europeans active in Syria and Iraq. We don't know what they will do," he said.
Although the report said protected sites such as power grids and nuclear power stations were not yet seen as top targets, Kerchove warned these type of attacks could emerge in the future through the use of Internet pirating techniques.
"There is the issue of: why is it that so far the terrorist organisations have not used the Internet as a weapon. That is to mount an attack through Internet, to go into the SCADA (Supervisory control and data acquisition) of a nuclear plant, a dam, an electrical grid, an air traffic control. It has not happened so far. The Internet is more used by spies, often states, and organised crime but I don't exclude that before five years we will be confronted with this," Kerchove said.
Essentially the entire European Union is under threat as almost all its governments back the U.S.-led coalition in Syria, Europol said, warning that IS was likely to infiltrate Syrian refugee communities in Europe in an effort to inflame hostility to immigrants that has shaken many EU governments.
With IS facing setbacks in Syria and Iraq, Kerchove said governments should draw lessons from when Islamist militants started waging a war against the Algerian government after returning from Afghanistan.
"We have to be prepared because some of them will come to Europe through broken travel but they may try to come back home and we don't want to repeat the mistake we made in the late eighties when the Russians left Afghanistan and we left the so-called Mujahedeen into the wild. And that's what happened after that, they went back to their home countries like in Algeria," Kerchove said.
Europol's report said Islamic State was also likely to start planning attacks and sending militants to Europe from Libya and that other groups, including al Qaeda and its affiliates, also continue to pose a threat to the continent.
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