Home-grown terrorism rising in EU, Europol says
By Renata Goldirova
The number of arrests connected to terrorism doubled in the European Union in 2007, while the overwhelming majority of attacks carried out in its territory were linked to separatism, the EU's police office, Europol, said in a report released on Monday (7 April).
Last year, EU member states reported to Europol a total number of 583 attacks and 1044 arrested suspects - something that amounts to a 24 percent and a 48 percent increase respectively compared to 2006.
However, 89 percent of all reported attacks were related to separatist violence in Spain and France. Only four were related to militant Islam.
The number of detained Muslim extremists suspected of violence dropped from 257 in 2006 to 201 in 2007, while home-made explosives continue to be their most popular tool.
Despite an apparent decrease, several EU states say that the threat of Islamic radicalism "has either increased or at least remains high".
According to the director of Europol, Max-Peter Ratzel, the threat is "partly" rooted in Pakistan-based groups linked to Al-Qaida. EU nationals continue to be recruited mainly for activities in Afghanistan and Iraq, although Somalia is also becoming a new destination for jihadists.
"Al-Qaida is still and will continue to dominate international terrorism for years to come," said EU anti-terrorism chief, Gilles de Kerchove, while also referring to cases outside the EU, when EU citizens were killed or kidnapped in Northern Africa.
Out of the total 1044 arrested last year, the vast majority were EU citizens suspected of membership in a militant organisation. In cases of Islamic extremism, the would-be attackers appear to increasingly have been born in the union's territory and having EU citizenship.
"This might indicate an increased number of home-grown terrorists throughout the European Union," the Europol chief concluded.
1) Home-grown terrorism rising in EU, Europol says