Brussels, Jun 22 (EFE).- Europol on Tuesday said that 10 extremist Islamist attacks were carried out in the European Union in 2020, but that four others were foiled.
The number of terror-related arrests decreased in the same period, although this does not necessarily point to a decrease in terror activity, Europol said.
Europol’s Terrorism Situation and Trends Report states that terrorist organizations attempted to take advantage of the pandemic in the EU last year to “spread propaganda,” while the international police network recorded at least 57 attacks completed, failed, and foiled in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.
The policing institution points at jihadist terrorism as the most important terror threat for the EU as there were 10 such terrorist attacks responsible for the death of 12 people.
Last year, a right-wing extremist killed nine people in a terror attack in Germany.
A total of 449 people were arrested in 2020 under suspicion of crimes related to terrorism in 17 European countries, a decrease of one third compared to previous years, while the UK reported 185 arrests in a similar downward trend.
“Whether this was linked to diminished operational capacities of law enforcement due to the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be ascertained on the basis of the information available,” says the report.
The report highlights the continued threat of extremist groups like Islamic State, which is still active in Iraq and Syria, while affiliated groups in other regions, especially in Africa, serve it to build a narrative of success and control of territory online, where the group spreads propaganda and calls for lone-actor attacks.
All completed jihadist terrorist attacks werre carried out by lone actors, according to the report.
Terrorist groups exploited the polarisation in society, taking advantage of the pandemic as “an additional stress factor” to radicalize individuals.