EU terrorism situation and trends 2020

Europol has published the (TE-SAT) 2020 report, which provides an overview of terrorism incidents and developments in the EU during 2019.

Ten people died as a result of terrorist attacks in the EU, and 27 people were injured. All deaths and the injuries of 26 people were the result of jihadist attacks. Only one person was injured in a rightwing terrorist attack. In addition to these terrorist attacks, Germany reported two major violent extremist attacks that killed three people and injured several others. Outside the EU, 17 civilians from EU Member States died in a terrorist attack (in Sri Lanka on the 21st of April 2019).

In 2019, 1,004 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 overall number of arrests decreased slightly for the second consecutive year in 2019, but the figures show that terrorism remained geographically widespread in the EU.

EU Member States reported that individuals imprisoned for terrorist offences and prisoners who radicalise in prison pose a threat both during their imprisonment and after release. In 2019 the failed attack on the 5th of March in a French prison, the thwarted 23rd of July attack on prison guards in France and the 29th of November attack in London by a recently released prisoner, are indicative of the threat. France reported that more than 500 terrorist convicts live in French prisons alongside 900 radicalised individuals. Between mid-2018 and the end of 2019, a total of four attacks in French prisons were foiled.

The total number of jihadism-related incidents in the EU decreased slightly (21 in 2019; 24 in 2018) but continued to be geographically widespread. Eight EU Member States suffered completed, failed or foiled jihadist terrorist attacks, the same number as in 2018.

As in previous years, the attacks specified as ethnonationalist terrorism represented the largest proportion (57 of 119) of all terrorist attacks. Their number decreased compared to 2018 (83).

In 2019 nearly half of all reported jihadism-inspired attacks and disrupted plots involved the use of explosives. Terrorists mostly aimed to target civilians and places of mass gathering. All jihadist bombing attacks failed or were thwarted by authorities.

In the EU, there is little evidence of a systematic nexus between crime and terrorism. Criminals and terrorists coexist in certain marginalised areas, within the same family structures or in prison, thereby enabling contacts and transaction-based cooperation. However, criminals are observed to be wary of terrorist suspects drawing attention to their activities. Skilled criminals are attractive recruits for terrorist groups.


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