EU terrorism report: 142 failed, foiled and completed attacks in 2016

In 2016, 142 victims died in terrorist attacks and 379 were injured in the European Union

yannick_pace
Yannick Pace
15 June 2017, 6:01pm
More than half (76) of the attacks were reported by the United Kingdom
More than half (76) of the attacks were reported by the United Kingdom
Europol Executive Director Rob Wainwright
Europol Executive Director Rob Wainwright
In 2016, a total of 142 failed, foiled and completed attacks were reported by eight EU Member States, according to Europol Executive Director Rob Wainwright.

Wainwright was speaking at a media briefing on the findings of the annual EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report (TE-SAT) where he said that more than half (76) of attempted attacked were reported by the United Kingdom. France reported 23 attacks, Italy 17, Spain 10, Greece 6, Germany 5, Belgium 4 and the Netherlands 1 attack.

142 victims died in terrorist attacks, and 379 were injured in the EU, said Wainwright.

“Never before has the need for more information sharing become more evident as it has in the past two years, with the unprecedented form of jihadist terrorist attacks across Europe that led to 135 victims,” he said.

Although there was a large number of terrorist attacks not connected with jihadism, Wainwright said that this accounted for the most serious forms of terrorist activity as nearly all reported fatalities and most of the casualties were the result of jihadist terrorist attacks.

Explosives were used in 40% of the attacks and women and young adults, and even children, are playing increasingly operational roles in committing terrorist activities independently in the EU.

Most arrests were related to jihadist terrorism, for which the number rose for the third consecutive year.

From left: EU Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, Europol Executive Director Rob Wainwright and Malta’s home affairs minister, Michael Farrugia
From left: EU Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, Europol Executive Director Rob Wainwright and Malta’s home affairs minister, Michael Farrugia
Moreover, the European Counter Terrorism Centre at Europol supported 127 counter terrorism investigations in 2016, which shows a clear indication of the growing range of jihadist activity.

The largest number of attacks in which a terrorist affiliation could be identified were carried out by ethno- nationalist and separatist extremists (99).

Attacks carried out by left-wing violent extremists have been on the rise since 2014; they reached a total of 27 in 2016, of which most (16) were reported by Italy.

Although the total number of jihadist terrorist attacks decreased from 17 in 2015 to 13 attacks in 2016, of which 6 were linked to the so-called Islamic State (IS), 135 of the 142 victims of terrorist attacks in 2016 were killed in the 13 jihadist attacks.

Also present at the briefing were EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos, Europol Executive Director Rob Wainwright and Malta’s home affairs minister, Michael Farrugia.

Avramopoulos said that while the EU was initially relatively unprepared to deal with the challenges being posed by terrorism and migration, over the past two years significant progress had been made, especially in reducing online propaganda.

“90% of illicit terrorism material is removed from the internet and Europol is cooperating with internet providers in this regard,” said Avramopoulos.  

Key findings:

• 1,002 persons were arrested for terrorist offences in 2016. Most arrests were related to jihadist terrorism, for which the number rose for the third consecutive year: 395 in 2014, 687 in 2015 and 718 in 2016.

• Of the 142 victims that died in terrorist attacks, 135 people were killed in jihadist terrorist attacks.

• Almost one-third of the total number of arrestees (291 of 1,002) were 25 years old or younger.

• Explosives were used in 40% of the attacks. Even though terrorists use a wide range of readily available weapons, explosive devices continue to be used in terrorist attacks, due to their high impact and symbolic power.

• Current trend in using weaponised unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as a drone, in the Syria/Iraq conflict zone might also inspire other jihadist supporters and increase the use of this kind of tactic.

• 40% of terrorist plots in Europe are believed to be at least partly financed through crime, especially drug dealing, theft, robberies, the sale of counterfeit goods, loan fraud, and burglaries.

• One in four (26%) of the arrestees in 2016 were women, a significant increase compared to 2015 (18%).                       

• 99 foiled, failed and completed attacks carried out were labelled as ethno-nationalist and separatist terrorism.

• The numbers of attacks of left-wing and anarchist terrorists increased in 2016 compared to 2015. 27 attacks were carried out and EU Member State authorities arrested 31 people. Italy, Greece and Spain were the only EU Member States to experience left-wing and anarchist terrorist attacks.

• The quantity of Islamic State propaganda decreased in 2016 due to lower production rates and the containment of dissemination. After a peak in mid-2015, the number of new videos produced by the Islamic State slowly decreased. In the second half of 2016, the frequency of new releases dropped even further. As the volume of Islamic State propaganda diminished, al-Qaeda and its affiliates attempted to take advantage of the situation and increased their efforts to reach new audiences.

• Jihadist groups have demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of how social networks operate and have launched well- organised, concerted social media campaigns to recruit followers and to promote or glorify acts of terrorism and violent extremism.

yannick_pace
Yannick joined MaltaToday as a journalist in 2016. His main areas of interest are politics...