Terrorism in the EU geographically widespread
Europol has published its new EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2020 featuring facts, figures and trends regarding terrorist attacks and arrests in the EU in 2019.
The report informs that a total of 119 foiled, failed and completed terrorist attacks were reported by a total of 13 EU Member States last year. Additionally, 1,004 individuals were arrested on suspicion of terrorism-related offences in 19 EU Member States, with Belgium, France, Italy, Spain and the UK reporting the highest numbers.
In total, 10 people died because of terrorist attacks in the EU and 27 people were injured. Nearly all of deaths and 26 injuries were the result of jihadist attacks, with one person injured in a right-wing terrorist attack. Several other people were killed in right-wing extremist attacks.
Europol has said that the number of jihadist attacks continued to see a decrease – meanwhile, right-wing attacks and, in particular, left-wing attacks, saw an increase during 2019.
Margaritis Schinas, who is leading the European Commission’s work on developing a European Security Union Strategy, said: “Terrorism continues to be a threat for the world, Europe, our citizens, our security and our way of life. More than ever, the EU needs to intensify its counter-terrorist measures, information sharing and law enforcement cooperation both on the ground and online. We will present shortly a new EU Security Union Strategy to set out the areas where the Union can bring added value to support Member States in ensuring security – from combatting terrorism and organised crime, to preventing and detecting hybrid threats, to cyber security.”
Catherine De Bolle, executive director of Europol, said: “While many right-wing extremist groups across the EU have not resorted to violence, they contribute to a climate of fear and animosity against minority groups in our EU cities. Such a climate, built on xenophobia, hatred for Jews and Muslims, anti-feminism and anti-immigration sentiments, may lower the threshold for some radicalised individuals to use violence against people and property of minority groups as we have witnessed this all too often in recent months. My thoughts are with those people and their families who in 2019 suffered the consequences of terrorist and extremist violence. The ultimate goal of law enforcement officers is to save lives and minimise the number of victims of intolerance and political violence.”
In 2019, several cases of funding the return of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) were observed. FTFs in conflict zones continued to seek financial support from people in Europe for the purpose of covering their expenses or even arranging their return back to Europe. Funding for terrorist groups outside Europe decreased compared to previous years, likely as a result of reduced opportunities for transferring funds to ISIS. Extremist groups in Europe mainly receive funds from their base of supporters.