In a report released on Friday, the European Union’s law enforcement agency has outlined the high probability of more attacks by the Daesh terrorists in some European countries.
Europol warned that EU countries participating in the US-led coalition fighting Daesh in Syria and Iraq are most susceptible to the terrorist attacks, not only in the near future, but also in the coming years as battle-hardened European terrorists return to their homes.
Britain and the Netherlands, Denmark, France and Belgium have joined forces in the coalition, while Germany’s military is also involved but not in combat capacity.
The EU police chief Rob Wainwright said in an interview on Friday that Europol was currently working with several counterterrorism agencies against the threat posed by Daesh as well as similar extremist militant organizations such al-Qaeda.
He said the Hague-based agency’s European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC) was presently cooperating with these agencies in the investigation of more than 50 terror cases across the continent.
“That says something about the level of the threat, but also about the level of interconnectedness amongst the counterterrorist community here,” Wainwright told reporters at Europol’s headquarters.
“The scale of this threat has been widely acknowledged in Europe, triggering an intensified cooperation between police and security services across the continent leading to an increase of arrests and plots foiled before terror attacks could be carried out,” the Europol official stated.
“This shows that the increased cooperation and exchange of data between all relevant services across Europe is a successful means to mitigate the threat posed by IS,” he added, using an alternative name for Daesh.
Wainwright said community leaders, clerics and parents play a role in diminishing the Daesh threat.
“We have to work in the community with faith leaders, with parents, with teachers to try and make sure that these young impressionable minds are not turned so easily,” he said.
‘Indiscriminate attacks a main goal of terrorism’
The Europol report noted a shift in Daesh attacks from targets such as police officers and military personnel to attacks on civilian targets.
“Indiscriminate attacks have a very powerful effect on the public in general, which is one of the main goals of terrorism: to seriously intimidate a population,” according to the report.
The report warned that currently the EU is facing a range of terrorist threats and attacks from groups or individuals either directed or inspired by Daesh.
If Daesh is defeated or severely weakened in Syria and Iraq, there may be an increased rate in the return of European militants and their families from the region to the EU or to other conflict areas, according to the report.
Daesh has claimed responsibility for a series of attacks in Europe, including the assaults in Paris, where a total of 130 people were killed, and the Brussels attacks that claimed the lives of over 30 people.