Europol recently published a report on the state of terrorism in the European Union. The report outlines trends and includes data on the attempts, attacks and arrests of alleged terrorists during 2019 in the EU.
As a consequence of these terrorist activities:
- A total of 119 attacks, both foiled and completed, were reported by 13 EU Member States.
- 1,004 individuals were arrested on suspicion of terrorism-related offences in 19 EU Member States.
- The countries with the highest numbers of arrests were Belgium, France, Italy, Spain and the UK.
- Ten people died, and 27 were injured as a result of terrorist attacks in the EU in 2019. Almost all were victims of jihadist attacks, although this type of terrorism continues its downward trend.
- The situation in conflict areas outside Europe continued to impact the jihadist terrorism situation in Europe.
In 2019, several incidences of funding the return of foreign terrorist fighters were observed, although funding for terrorist groups outside Europe decreased in comparison to previous years.
The report focuses on right-wing extremist terrorist attacks, which increased last year, rising from one in 2018 to six in 2019. It highlights the fact that the attacks in Christchurch (New Zealand), Poway (USA), El Paso (USA), Baerum (Norway) and Halle (Germany) were part of a wave of violent incidents around the world, the perpetrators of which were part of similar transnational online communities and took inspiration from one another.
It goes on to explain that violent far-right extremists maintain international links through a range of events, such as concerts for example.
Left-wing and anarchist terrorist attacks reached the level of 2016 and 2017 after a decrease in 2018. All the attacks took place in Greece, Italy or Spain. Arrests for alleged extreme left-wing terrorist activity increased significantly; in 2018 there were 34 while in 2019 they tripled to 111, mainly due to arrests in Italy. These groups used readily available materials to make explosives.
The use of firearms and explosives remained prevalent in separatist terrorist attacks and violent attacks inspired by far-right ideologies.
Measures adopted by social media platforms to combat the spread of terrorist propaganda led some groups to return to traditional online communication methods. Suspects detained for terrorist propaganda in Europe sometimes had a long history of involvement in jihadist activities.
There is little evidence to suggest the existence of a formal, systematic link between organised crime and terrorism in the EU. Despite this, there are indications of certain transactions between low-level criminals and extremists, who often overlap socially in marginalised areas.