Israeli Navy destroy Hamas boat and attack terrorists in sea
Two Swedes were shot dead and a third person was injured in Brussels on Monday night, by a suspect local police have said was inspired by ISIS.
The attack came just three days after a high-school teacher was stabbed to death in northern France, with the attacker named as a 20-year-old of Chechen origin known to the security services for his links to Islamist extremism.
The incidents come in the wake of the outbreak of a bloody conflict in the Gaza Strip and Israel, with Hamas leader Khaled Mashal calling for a Global Day of Jihad last Friday as vengeance for the death of Palestinian civilians.
Both perpetrators cried “Allahu Akbar!” – Arabic for “God is greatest!” – before carrying out the murders, according to local media reports.
As France and Belgium both increase their terror alertness to their highest levels, is Europe bracing for another wave of jihadism?
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Europol’s Terrorism Situation and Trend Report is the go-to source here, to which the Home Office’s own counter-terrorism statistics can be added.
Over the decade leading up to the end of last year, a total of 137 terrorist attacks linked to radical Islamic ideology unfolded in Europe.
The incident tally peaked in 2017 – the year the UK was stricken by the Manchester Arena bombing and London Bridge attack in quick succession.
The number of deaths, meanwhile, peaked in 2015 – the focus this time on France, and Paris in particular, with combined fatalities from the Charlie Hebdo killings in January and coordinated November attacks coming to 157.
Figures from recent years do not suggest a resurgence. In 2021, two people died as a result of three attacks – one of whom was MP David Amess, who was stabbed while holding a constituency surgery in Essex – and last year two people died from two attacks.
If jihadism is confirmed as a motive for the attacks of the past few days, 2023’s tally now stands at three deaths from two attacks.
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There is, however, an apparent geographic concentration of activity in France and Belgium.
Most recently, jihadist terrorism in Europe has become particularly concentrated in the two countries affected by attacks in recent days: France and Belgium. Of the two completed plots in Europe carried out last, one occurred in each, similar to the past week’s events.
Across the Continent, 266 arrests were made for suspected jihadist terrorist offences in 2022 – of which 115 (43 percent) were conducted by French (93) and Belgian (22) authorities. Numbers are also notably high in Spain (46) and Germany (30).
Such arrests are generally made for being a member of ISIS or another militant Islamic organisation, producing or disseminating their propaganda, financing their activities or, in the most extreme cases, planning and preparing an attack.
The arrest count has been increasing slightly in recent years, from 254 in 2020 to 260 in 2021.
In the UK, the total number of arrests under the Terrorism Act 2000 and subsequent legislation – including all religious and political ideologies – came to 166 in 2022.
While links to Islamic terrorism remain the prevailing reason for arrest – accounting for 70 percent of the 380 made in total – the ideology is no longer behind a majority of attacks. This can be understood by security services becoming relatively well-equipped to meet the threat they pose.
The same cannot be said for those motivated by left-wing and anarchist beliefs, the leading motive in 2022, accounting for 13 of the 16 total completed attacks – 81 percent of the total.
There are fears, however, that international support for Israel in its retaliatory attacks on Hamas will lead to an increase in jihadist terrorism worldwide.
Last week, France controversially banned pro-Palestinian demonstrations in the country, arguing they were “likely to generate disturbances to public order”.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak openly backed Israel’s right to defend itself last week, and on Saturday declared that “Britain is with you… not just today, not just tomorrow, but always” as protests against the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) campaign brought central London to a standstill. On Monday, US President Joe Biden announced his intention to visit Israel this week.
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