Posts Tagged ‘attacks in Europe’

Hundreds of British Daesh fighters are hiding in Turkey, prompting fears of terror attacks in Europe

December 27, 2017

Iraqi forces are seen flashing the sign for victory in Iraq’s western Anbar province near the Syrian border after retaking it from Daesh jihadists a day earlier (AFP)

LONDON: Hundreds of British fighters who joined ISIS are believed to be hiding in Turkey, adding to fears of an increased threat of terror attacks in Europe.

Thousands of jihadists fled to Turkey after the terror group lost its grip on the strongholds of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq this year.
Ciwan Xhalil, a Syrian Kurdish intelligence officer who collaborates with western intelligence agencies over foreign ISIS fighters, told
The Times of London that most British ISIS fighters had fled Syria and gone to Turkey.
“The exodus began after Mosul (in Iraq) fell and continued after (ISIS) lost Raqqa. We have lots of French in our jails and scores of
other nationals but we think most of the British have escaped,” he said.
About 850 Britons traveled to join Daesh, of whom about half have returned. About 130 are confirmed dead.
The figure is higher than the 300 returnees to Germany and 271 to France.
The report warned there has also been a surge in the number of women involved in attacks — with nearly a quarter of terror plots in Europe from the start of 2017 to May involving women.
Meanwhile, according to the United States-led international coalition fighting the militant group, fewer than 1,000 Islamic State fighters remain in Iraq and Syria, a third of the estimated figure only three weeks ago.
“Due to the commitment of the Coalition and the demonstrated competence of our partners in Iraq and Syria, there are estimated to be less than 1,000 ISIS terrorists in our combined joint area of operations, most of whom are being hunted down in the desert regions in eastern Syria and Western Iraq,” the US-led coalition told Reuters in an emailed statement.
Moreover, British security sources said it is increasingly difficult to leave Turkey and return to Britain without being flagged.
Returning jihadists are stopped and questioned by MI5 and police and will be prosecuted if there is evidence that they fought for the caliphate.
The authorities also deploy covert techniques to track down extremists. American intelligence sources said that the CIA and MI6 were co-ordinating to track a cadre of foreign Isis fighters.
Although only three of the 40 attacks in Europe since 2015 have involved foreign terrorist fighters returning from Syria and Iraq, those incidents caused more than half the fatalities.
The threat level in Britain remains at “severe,” meaning that further attacks are likely. The country is dealing with one of the worst cases of homegrown radicalization in Europe, and the chief of Britain’s MI5 domestic security service warned in October that the threat of extremist attacks in Britain was at its “highest tempo” in his three-decade career. British security services have foiled almost a dozen attack plots this year.


Kenya: Islamic State recruiting young Kenyans for jihad abroad — Medical student planned anthrax attack

June 30, 2016



© AFP/File / by Tristan McConnell | A Kenyan police officer folds up a flag inscribed with the logo of the Islamic state (IS) following a raid on two mosques in the coastal city of Mombasa

NAIROBI (AFP) – Recent arrests show the Islamic State’s growing presence in East Africa, where they are recruiting young Kenyans for jihad abroad and raising fears some of them will return to threaten the country.

Kenyan intelligence agencies estimate that around 100 men and women may have gone to join the IS in Libya and Syria, triggering concern that some may come back to stage attacks on Kenyan and foreign targets in a country already victim to regular, deadly terrorism.

“There is now a real threat that Kenya faces from IS and the danger will continue to increase,” said Rashid Abdi, senior analyst at the International Crisis Group think tank in Nairobi.

The problem of eager but often untrained extremists gaining terrorist skills with IS and coming home to launch attacks is one European nations are already grappling with, and may soon be Kenya’s problem too.

“It’s a time bomb,” said George Musamali, a Kenyan security consultant and former paramilitary police officer.

“People going to Libya or Syria isn’t a problem for Kenya, it’s what they do when they come back.”

The first Al-Qaeda attack in Kenya was the 1998 US embassy bombing and the most recent large one a university massacre in Garissa last year, but the IS threat is new and as yet ill defined.

In March four men appeared in court accused of seeking to travel to Libya to join IS.

Then in early May, Kenyan police announced the arrest of a medical student, his wife and her friend accused of recruiting for IS and plotting an anthrax attack. Two other medical students were said to be on the run.

– ‘IS terror network’ –

Police chief Joseph Boinnet described a countrywide “terror network” linked to IS and led by Mohamed Abdi Ali, a medical intern at a regional hospital, “planning large scale attacks” including one to “unleash a biological attack… using anthrax”.

Three weeks later Kenyan police announced (using another IS acronym) the arrest of two more members of “the ISIS network that is seeking to establish itself in Kenya in order to conduct terror attacks against innocent Kenyans.”

Police said they had found “materials terrorists typically use in the making of IEDs” — homemade bombs — as well as “bows and poisoned arrows”.

Some experts dismissed the suggestion of an imminent large-scale attack in Kenya, but said the threat of IS radicalisation, recruitment and return is genuine.

“We can’t see either the intent to carry out such an attack nor any real planning for it,” said one foreign law enforcement official who has examined the anthrax allegation.

“But there is something in it: there is IS here, mainly involved in recruitment and facilitation.”

Martine Zeuthen, a Kenya-based expert on violent extremism at Britain’s Royal United Services Institute, said the recent arrests “indicate that radicalisation continues to be a serious security concern”.

She said that while recruitment into the Somalia-based Al-Qaeda group Shabaab remains the primary danger, “there are also credible reports of recruitment from Kenya to violent groups outside the region, such as those fighting in Libya.”

“Like those who went to fight in Somalia and returned to Kenya, this new category of recruit may also return and pose a security risk to Kenya,” said Zeuthen.

– Multiplying threats –

Kenyan authorities already struggle to manage the return of their nationals from Somalia, where hundreds of Kenyans make up the bulk of Shabaab’s foreign fighters.

In the future they will likely also have to deal with returning IS extremists as well as self-radicalised “lone wolf” attackers inspired by the group’s ideology and online propaganda.

“Kenya risks finding itself fairly soon in the position that Belgium or France or the US does, as IS-inspired extremists pose a domestic threat,” said Matt Bryden, director of Sahan Research, a Nairobi-based think tank.

“In Kenya, we’re not yet at the point where experienced fighters are coming back but it may not be far off.”

Bryden and others believe that for now the true number of Kenyan IS recruits may be just “a handful” but the existence of sympathisers with the capacity to help aspiring jihadis travel to Libya and Syria, often via Khartoum, Sudan, is not in doubt.

IS is a new entrant to a well-established jihadist scene in Kenya, exploiting the diverse grievances of angry, frustrated and disaffected young Kenyans.

Recent security operations on Kenya’s coast have forced Shabaab recruiters into retreat, inadvertently opening up space for IS.

“Success in dismantling the organised jihadi networks has created a vacuum into which IS is stepping,” said Abdi. “There is a proliferation of jihadi groups, and that makes for a much more dangerous situation.”

by Tristan McConnell

French militant featured on latest Islamic State video — New execution video as it warns of Doomsday attacks on UK, Europe

January 31, 2016

The Independent

The latest video includes a French-speaking militant threatening Spain, as the group widens its focus on Europe

By  Adam Withnall

French security services will be analysing the video to try and discover the identity of the militant threatening Europe

The Isis jihadist group has released a new video showing the execution of five hostages in an apparent threat to the West.

In propaganda footage thought to have been issued by the militants’ media arm in Nineveh province, Iraq, a French-speaking militant hails recent attacks in Europe and promises more to come, most notably in Spain.

The video shows the long-haired, apparently French militant and four others each shooting a prisoner in the back of a head. The executions are purported to take place in the ruins of a building destroyed in coalition air strikes.

It comes as Isis warned in the latest edition of its Arabic newsletter, al-Naba, of new attacks in Britain which would “turn the hair of young children white”, according to a Site Intel translation.

This has been interpreted as an apocalyptic prophesy, part of Isis’s doomsday narrative which claims the end of the world will come with a final battle between it and the rest of the world.

Saying the Paris attacks which killed 130 people on 13 November were “not the last message the soldiers of the Caliphate signed with blood”, the group claims the UK will suffer “the lion’s share” of attacks in Europe in future.


French intelligence officials will be analysing the new video in an attempt to identify the masked militant, whose speech includes specific threats to Toledo and Cordoba and warns Spain will “pay dearly” for ending Muslim rule of Andalucía in the 15th century.

Estimates last year suggested more than 1,500 French nationals have travelled to join the terrorist group, including at least 220 women tempted by its recruitment network.

A week ago, Isis’s main media centre in Raqqa released a 17-minute propaganda film featuring the Paris attackers, and which also threatened attacks in Britain.

And the EU announced the formation of a new combined intelligence agency to pool anti-terror efforts from across the continent, warning Isis was planning “large-scale” terror attacks and focusing primarily on European targets.

Security analysts said recent Isis media output would be monitored by UK security forces, but such propaganda “doesn’t change anything in particular” for the British terror threat level.

Britain’s MI5 chief warns militants planning “mass casualty attacks” on the West — Charlie Hebdo staff vow to print 1 million copies

January 9, 2015


LONDON —The head of Britain’s domestic spy agency MI5 warned on Thursday that militant Islamists in Syria were planning “mass casualty attacks” in the West and that intelligence services may be powerless to stop them.

“We know… that a group of core al-Qaida terrorists in Syria is planning mass casualty attacks against the West,” Andrew Parker told journalists in London a day after an Islamist attack in Paris claimed 12 lives.

“Although we and our partners try our utmost, we know that we cannot hope to stop everything,” he added.

Parker said that fighters returning to the West from the civil war in Syria were in danger of bringing with them a “twisted ideology” that could lead them to carry out attacks on famous landmarks at home.

Although Islamic State (IS) presented the most obvious threat, fighters aligned with the core of al-Qaida were also a danger.

“We still face more complex and ambitious plots that follow the now sadly well-established approach of al-Qaida and its imitators—attempts to cause large-scale loss of life, often by attacking transport systems or iconic targets,” he said.

The MI5 director general earlier said the attack against French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was a “terrible reminder” of the threat facing Western nations, revealing that his agency had helped stop three terror plots “in recent months alone”.

Parker called for wider powers to identify and monitor suspects, following a backlash against the security services after the extent of their snooping was exposed by Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor.


Charlie Hebdo signs

French media has pledged to help Charlie Hebdo as staff at the magazine have vowed to publish next week with a print run of 1m. Photograph: Antoine Antoniol/Getty Images

Charlie Hebdo staff vow to print 1m copies as French media support grows

Writer for satirical magazine says ‘stupidity will not win’, as about €250,000 lined up from Google-backed fund to support publication

The Guardian

Surviving staff members of Charlie Hebdo have vowed to publish the satirical weekly next Wednesday, despite the murder of most of its senior journalists – with a much larger than usual print run of 1m copies.

Within 24 hours of the massacre of 12 people – including eight journalists – some €250,000 (£195,000) had been earmarked to support Charlie Hebdo by the Digital Press Fund, paid for by Google, to support the French press. French media groups including Le Monde, France Télévisions and Radio France, are also understood to be working on a plan to contribute a similar amount, urging other media outlets to join in offering humanitarian and financial support.

This money is expected to be taken from a donation tax, according to a report in Les Echos. In a further sign of the French media uniting to save the weekly, the two groups involved in the distribution of the papers will take no fee for next week’s issue.

Ludovic Blecher, the director of Google IPWA Fund for Digital Innovation, told the Guardian that many diverse, largely uncoordinated efforts were being made to support the left-leaning weekly following the attack. “We are a fund for the press. We must enable them to be able to write, even if we don’t agree, it’s a question of diversity of speech.”

Read the rest:

Jihadists back from Syria are ‘deadly danger’ to Europe, Germany warns

June 18, 2014


BERLIN Wed Jun 18, 2014 10:43am EDT

(Reuters) – Battle-hardened jihadists returning from Syria’s civil war are no longer an ‘abstract threat’ but a ‘deadly danger’ to Europe, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Wednesday.

An estimated 2,000 Europeans, including some 320 German citizens, have travelled to Syria to fight alongside Islamist rebels, he said while presenting the German domestic intelligence service’s (BfV) annual report.

European governments are struggling to stop their nationals, some just teenagers, travelling to Syria where the conflict that began as a peaceful uprising to President Bashar al-Assad has become an armed rebellion is entering its fourth year. More than 160,000 people have been killed.

The trip to Syria is often as simple as a low-cost flight to Turkey then passage over the border with a trafficker.

“We had feared that those returning from the Syrian conflict might plan attacks here. We now know those fears were well founded. An abstract danger…. has turned into a concrete, deadly danger in Europe,” de Maiziere said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Tuesday that British and other European Islamists fighting in the Middle East posed the biggest threat to Britain’s security. [ID:nEA6h00K7U]

BfV chief Hans-Georg Maassen said authorities had narrowly averted an Islamist attack in Bonn just before Christmas which would have harmed many people, and Germany remained a target.

The French citizen suspected of killing four people at a shooting at the Jewish Museum in Brussels last month spent time fighting in Syria and passed through Frankfurt airport, he said.

Germany has introduced anti-radicalisation programs and hotlines for families worried their children might be planning to leave for Syria, but young people are still radicalizing fast and often beyond the radar of intelligence services, he said.

The BfV report estimates there are some 43,000 Islamists in Germany, with the numbers of the ultra-conservative Salafi movement growing.

Maassen said the Internet played an important role in this recruitment process, evolving from a forum where extremists distributed information to a place where young jihadists were giving regular updates of their experiences via social media.

“Euphoric young people are sharing on the Internet what they are experiencing hour by hour,” added the German security chief.

“They are posting gruesome pictures of executions, of severed heads… it is staggering to see the numbers of ‘likes’ and links, and it shows there is a group in Germany which is ready to be radicalized and to travel to Syria,” he said.

(Editing by Stephen Brown and Tom Heneghan)