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Europe is still “a focus of terrorist plots”, according to a new security report released by the US State Department.The document warned that “affiliates” of al-Qaeda grew stronger across the world in 2010, even as the terror organisation’s “core” in Pakistan was weakened even before the death of its figurehead Osama bin Laden earlier this year.
Groups linked to al-Qaeda are also becoming better at sharing knowledge and terrorist “capabilities”, the report added.
Noting a series of attempted attacks in Scandinavia, including the Stockholm suicide bombing in December 2010, the US Country Reports on Terrorism 2010 said a number of countries in Europe had raised their terrorist threat level during the year. However, it added that “the year was marked by counterterrorism successes” as police and security forces foiled a number of plots, and noted:
“The continuing effectiveness of European security services, close cooperation between and among European countries, and the sheer technical capabilities available to most partner countries enabled authorities to prevent any major terrorist plot from coming to fruition in 2010.”
In the North, the number of terrorist bombing incidents soared by 80 per cent against 2009, with 87 such bombings between January and November 2010 alone. At least 90 people were casualties of paramilitary assaults or shootings during the same period – while the report also warned that violence in the North could be “traced back to support” provided by people living in the Republic.
On a global level, the report also warned that the al-Shabaab militias – who currently hold power in famine-hit Somalia – were gaining in strength across East Africa, and were a powerful lure to Westerners tempted by terrorist ideologies.
It also noted that al-Qaeda was stepping up its information campaign in English, noting that English-speaking militants are increasingly connected via online forums and video-sharing sites. The year saw al-Qaeeda in the Arabian Peninsula launch its first English-language magazine, called Inspire, which offered articles including “What to expect in Jihad”.