ref:topbtw-3796.html/ 6 Dicembre 2023
Christmas period : "huge risk" of terrorist attacks.
The European Union is facing a "huge risk" of terrorist attacks over the Christmas period, the bloc's home affairs chief warned on Tuesday Dec. 5th..
"With the war between Israel and Hamas and the polarisation it causes in our society, with the upcoming holiday season,
there is a huge risk of terrorist attacks in the European Union," Ylva Johansson said ahead of a meeting of EU home affairs ministers in Brussels.
Johansson's assessment is based on the steep increase in extremist propaganda circulating online as well as the rising threat level in
member states amid recent attacks in Belgium and France.
Defining the terrorist threat level is a competency of individual member states, with the scale and level definitions differing between EU countries.
Johansson pledged to make an additional €30 million available to support EU member states to protect places of worship and other public
spaces as part of the so-called Internal Security Fund.
She also called on all countries to implement EU measures to crack down on online hate speech and stifle the financial resources used
by extremist groups.
Spain's home affairs minister Fernando Grande Marlaska, whose government holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU,
said that "in an especially delicate international context, the situation in the Middle East could sharpen tensions, heighten
polarisation and fuel terrorism."
"Clearly, we can't nor should permit this," he explained, adding that cooperation between EU member states is critical to tackle the threat.
The warning came days after a radical Islamist known to authorities fatally stabbed a German-Filipino tourist and injured two other people
with a hammer near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, heightening EU vigilance and concerns over impending attacks.
The suspect, identified as Armand Rajabpour-Miyandoab, had sworn allegiance to the so-called Islamic State in a social media video.
"The war in Gaza and Hamas' terror is exacerbating this situation.
The risk of further emotionalization and radicalization of violent Islamist perpetrators is high," Faeser told reporters in Brussels.
"Our security authorities are working very closely together," she added.
"Right now we have to keep a particularly close eye on the Islamist threats and work together with neighbouring
countries against Islamist propaganda."
In 2016 and 2018, Berlin and Strasbourg's Christmas markets became the scenes of deadly terrorist attacks.
German authorities arrested a 15-year-old boy and his alleged accomplice last Thursday on suspicion of planning a militant
Islamist state-style attack on a Christmas market.
Police forces in several EU countries are upping security around such market sites this year.
The protracted conflict in the Middle East is also deepening fears that violence could permeate into Europe.
Places of worship, including synagogues and mosques, have also been on high alert since the Israel-Hamas war broke out in early October,
amid fears of reprisals among both Jewish and Muslim communities.
EU countries including France have heightened police presence around such sites.
A French teacher was stabbed to death in the northeast town of Arras by a former student with a record of
Islamic radicalisation on October 13th, just six days after the Israel-Hamas conflict broke out on October 7th,
when Hamas militants embarked on a deadly rampage in southern Israel, leaving some 1,200 civilians dead.
Days later, an assailant claiming to be inspired by the Islamic State fatally shot two Swedish nationals in Brussels.
The perpetrator, a Tunisian national, had unsuccessfully sought asylum in Belgium but the Belgian authorities had not been
able to follow up on his deportation order.
Johansson, a Swede, said in response to the attack that the bloc had to step up efforts to ensure irregular migrants that
pose a "security risk" are swiftly returned to countries of transit or origin.
Islamist terrorism remains the biggest terror threat in Western Europe and "lone actors are expected to continue
to perpetrate most of the terrorist attacks in the EU", Europol's spokesperson, Jan Op Gen Oorth, told Euronews in September
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