European Union member states are pooling together resources to fight terrorism in light of the grave threat posed by the terrorist group ISIS, Europol, the EU’s law-enforcement agency, announced on Monday.
The newly formed European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC) was created in response to the terrorist attacks in Paris in November. ISIS (also known as the Islamic State, IS, ISIL, or Daesh) claimed responsibility for the attacks, which killed 130 people at multiple sites across the city.
Europol said that Europe is “facing the most significant terrorist threat in over 10 years,” as ISIS makes clear that it has aspirations to carry out large-scale attacks outside its core base of territory in the Middle East.
Counterterrorism authorities in Europe faced criticism after the Paris attacks because the terrorists responsible were reportedly able to travel to Europe from Syria, where they received training from hardened jihadis. As the continent struggles to deal with a massive refugee crisis, border security within Europe has been called into question. Some of the attackers had known links to terrorism but were still able to move between borders within Europe.
The ECTC aims to improve information sharing between member countries.
“Our ambition is for the European Counter Terrorism Centre to become a central information hub in the fight against terrorism in the EU, providing analysis for ongoing investigations and contributing to a coordinated reaction in the event of major terrorist attacks,” Europol Director Rob Wainwright said in a statement.
Europol’s report noted that “there is every reason to expect that IS, IS-inspired terrorists or another religiously inspired terrorist group will undertake a terrorist attack somewhere in Europe again.”
ISIS has been increasingly advertising its international ambitions since the Paris attacks.
The group released a video on Sunday threatening more attacks against the West.
And while the Paris attacks were planned in ISIS territory, “lone wolf” attackers are also of particular concern in Europe. In the video, a militant identified as Abu Qital al-Faransi encouraged Muslims in France to “wake up” and “take action” — “before it’s too late and they begin slaughtering you.”
The Europol report said Muslim refugees in Europe could become targets for ISIS recruiters.
“A real and imminent danger … is the possibility of elements of the (Sunni Muslim) Syrian refugee diaspora becoming vulnerable to radicalisation once in Europe,” the report said.
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