As the Islamic State (IS) loses ground in the Middle East, the pattern of its recent terrorist attacks in Europe suggests that it has already adopted new tactics to attack the West, according to Europol.
These developments are highlighted in the report Changes in Modus Operandi of IS revisited published by Europol’s European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC). The report provides an up-to date assessment of the threat this group poses to the EU, on which basis EU Member States can prepare for future attacks.
Currently the EU is facing a range of terrorist threats and attacks: from networked groups to lone actors; attacks directed by IS and those inspired by IS; the use of explosives and automatic rifles as well as bladed weapons and vehicles; and carefully prepared attacks alongside those that seem to be carried out spontaneously.
The so-called Islamic State has proven to be very effective in inspiring people to commit terrorist acts and in setting attacks in motion themselves, Europol noted.
According to Europol’s Director Rob Wainwright, “The last two years have seen a number of jihadist attacks, several of which have caused mass casualties. 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.”
“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,” Wainwright said, adding, “Nevertheless today’s report shows that the threat is still high and includes diverse components which can be only tackled by even better collaboration.”
Gilles de Kerchove, EU Counter-terrorism Coordinator stressed, “We have to be vigilant, since the threat posed by the so-called Islamic State (IS) and returning foreign fighters is likely to persist in the coming years. These people are trained to use explosives and firearms and they have been indoctrinated by the jihadist ideology. An effective response requires a comprehensive approach and long term commitment. Of course, the primary responsibility in the fight against terrorism lies with the Member States. However, the EU and its agencies such as Europol can and should play a supportive role that helps respond to the cross-border nature of the threat.”