A recent report has revealed that jihadist terrorism and threats posed by the extreme left and right-wing activists continue to terrorize Europe amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The European Union (EU) Terrorism Situation and Trend Report (TE-SAT) 2020 report launched by European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) said, “Activists both on the extreme left and right and those involved in jihadist terrorism attempt to seize the opportunity the pandemic has created to further propagate their aims”.
“In the first months of 2020, lockdown measures introduced to combat the spread of COVID-19 could further escalate some of the trends identified in the TE-SAT, given the potential economic and social impact of the pandemic worldwide. These developments have the potential to further fuel the radicalization of some individuals, regardless of their ideological persuasion”, it added.
The situation in conflict areas outside Europe, the report explained, continued to impact the terrorism situation in Europe. “Hundreds of European citizens with links to the so-called Islamic State (IS) remained in Iraq and Syria”.
“IS, while losing its last enclave in Syria, transitioned to a covert insurgent group operating in Iraq and Syria and maintained its global network of affiliates. Al-Qaeda again displayed its intent and ambition to strike Western targets, while its regional affiliates aim to integrate and coordinate populations and armed factions in conflict areas”, it added.
In 2019, 1004 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.
The report reveals that 21 jihadist terrorist attacks were reported by EU Member States last year.
“A total of ten people lost their lives as a result of the three completed jihadist terrorist attacks in the EU in 2019: four on 18 March in the Utrecht tram shooting; four on 3 October in a Paris police headquarters; and two during the 29 November Fishmonger’s Hall/London Bridge attack. A total of 26 people were injured”, said the report.
The report further revealed the modus operandi of Al Qaeda terrorists.
“Al-Qaeda continues to view its fight in long-term, multigenerational terms, the aim being to exhaust the West, topple ‘apostate’ regimes in Muslim-majority countries and restore the caliphate”, it said.
It added, “Al-Qaeda and its affiliated groups continue harbouring the ambition and intent to carry out terrorist attacks in the West or against Western interests in other countries. On the eighteenth anniversary of the 11 September 2001 attacks, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri argued that ‘the US does not understand anything except the language of force’ and called for more attacks on US interests worldwide”.
It is likely that al-Qaeda continues to mainly seek to conduct attacks against strategically important targets. The report further reveals that Al-Qaeda has created a strong network of global affiliates that are empowered to push forward the organization’s centrally defined agenda.