The number of terrorist attacks falls, the threat remains

In 2016, Europol recorded 142 terrorist attacks –including those which failed, those which were thwarted and those which were carried out −, which caused 142 deaths. Terrorist activity in the European Union is concentrated in eight countries: Germany, Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK. The fight against terrorism, however, also affects countries which have not suffered attacks, and the 1,002 terrorist-related detentions, apart from the eight countries already mentioned, have also been carried out in Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Slovenia, Ireland, Poland, The Czech Republic, Romania and Sweden.

Hommage_à_Ahmed_MerabetThese figures are slightly lower than those recorded during 2015  : 221 terrorist attacks, 151 deaths and 1,077 people arrested.

Europol differentiates between terrorist affiliations: jihadists, extreme left wing and anarchists, extreme right, separatists, with a particular objective and those which do not specify what group they belong to. Jihadist terrorist attacks amount to 13 of the 142 recorded; however, they have caused 135 of the 142 deaths and 374 of the 379 casualties.[1] Most of the 1,002 detentions are also mainly focused on terrorists with a jihadist ideology (718, 429 correspond to France and 69 to Spain). Of all detentions, the UK stands out due to the non-specified affiliation of the 149 people detained in this country.

Separatist terrorism is the one which, in terms of quantity, generates a higher number of incidents, with 99 attacks recorded in 2016. Of these, 76 were in the UK, all connected to Northern Irish terrorism. Five of these attacks took place in Spain and correspond to acts of sabotage attributed to Ernai (the youth movements of the Abertzale left-wing separatist group) and to this group’s dissident movements.

The other affiliation which generates most attacks is the extreme left and anarchists, with 16 attacks in Italy, 6 in Greece and 5 in Spain, regarding which it must be stressed that there is no great operational planning nor the use of improvised explosive devices (which are not considered to be commercial or military explosives) nor firearms.

This is some of the information published in the annual report on the situation and trends connected to terrorism in the European Union in 2016 which Europol has published in June 2017.

[1] The tally of those injured is confusing, as the core of the document, when the attacks in Nice, Berlin and Brussels are explained, respectively records 201, 56 and 340 casualties, a figure which, without including those injured in less serious attacks, is already in excess of the 374 highlighted.


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