Europol has published its annual report on the situation and trends of terrorism in the European Union in 2015. Data indicates an increase in the terrorist threat to Europe which makes it a reality. In the report, attacks by Jihadist groups (mainly Daesh) are included as are those of right-wing extremist, left-wing extremist and nationalist/separatist groups.
Although the number of attacks (221 including those which were prevented, failed and carried out) do not reflect a significant increase compared with the previous year (201), the gravity of the attacks have indeed increased very significantly. For example, in 2014 four people died and six were injured due to terrorist attacks. In contrast, in 2015 the number of people killed rose to 151 and there were 300 people injured. The biggest increase in terrorist attacks in relation to the previous year were Jihadist (from 1 to 17) and right-wing extremist groups (from 0 to 9), whereas attacks by extreme left-wing groups remained the same (13). Most attacks took place in the United Kingdom (103), followed by France (72) and Spain (25). However, deaths were focused in France (148), while there were two in Denmark and one in Greece.
A total of 1,077 people were detained for offences related to terrorism, a sharp increase in comparison with the previous year (774). Most were linked to Jihadist groups (687), followed by separatist groups (168) and extreme left-wing groups (67). Arrests linked to extreme right-wingers amounted to only 11 (compared to 34 the previous year). The number of arrests involving people under 25 rose (268 compared to 178 the previous year) and arrests of women rose from 96 to 171. The rising trend concerning the detention of women is highest among Jihadist groups (6 in 2013, 52 in 2014 and 128 in 2015).
As far as financing terrorist organisations is concerned, social networks serve as a useful tool to raise popular financial support (not necessarily collected via the network) and this has become a new trend. It must be stressed, however, that small cells and individual terrorists survive by financing themselves, either by using their own income or even with personal bank loans. Money generated by criminal activity also contributes to their finances.
Most attacks (or practically half) involved the use of firearms, whereas explosives were used in 24 attacks (22%), which confirm the downward trend of this modus operandi. Moreover, in the case of explosives, improvised homemade appliances are still commonly used.
Concerning Jihadist terrorism, cells currently operating in Europe are mainly local, radicalisation processes providing members are increasingly fast-moving and soft objectives are chosen, free of risk, as they create more panic than attacks on infrastructure, the police or the army.
During the 18 months which have passed since the caliphate was re-established and the end of 2015, Daesh has inspired 50 attacks in 18 countries, causing 1,100 deaths and over 1,700 injured. Most of the attacks have taken place in the Middle East and Africa.
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