112.999 General Risk Of International Terrorism In Europe

112.999 Threat Of International Terrorism In Europe

112.999 Home Page Index 

Local Terrorist Threats In Individual European Countries

Foundations Of Present Threat Levels

Most European countries carry a risk of experiencing an act of international terrorism if they were involved in the post 9/11 invasions in Afghanistan and Iraq. When considering the potential risk or threat to an individual country of an act of aggression by an ‘enemy’  security services  factor in information from national and international intelligence sources. Historically these processes matured during the Cold War in Europe, The Vietnam War and the various turmoils in the Middle East, where the enemy or the ‘state’ sponsoring the aggressor was clearly.identifiable

In the second half of the 20th century these processes, aided by technology  became more sophisticated and  were used in Britain, Germany and Italy to combat the IRA, Baader-Meinhof and the Red Brigades. In 1992 Osama bIn Laden’s  Al Qaeda began a series of terrorist attacks across the world, These attacks it is thought were legitimized where they were concieved and planned, in Afghanistan, a state hostile to  America and US friendly states. Initially these attacks were carried out by members of Al-Qaeda and groups directly linked and financed by them. The 9/11 attacks were the product of these processes

The military response of the United States and it’s allies, particularly those in Europe, was to invade Afghanistan and then Iraq.  So as to justify this the invasions were accompanied by a rhetoric suggesting  the attacks were a product of and induced by religious extremism.

This politically and economically sponsored analysis  was viewed, with some justification,  by some religious communities as a direct attack on their faith. The consequence of this was that some members of these groups, many of whom felt disenfranchised in their communities, concluded that  Bin Laden and  Al-Qaeda’s   hate of the ‘status quo’ had justified the 9/11 attacks.  For a few their devotion their faith and moral obligation to protect it coupled with these conclusions warranted them replicating the attacks of 9/11.

British intelligence services were aware before the invasion of Iraq that rhetoric being used in the very public ‘war on terror’ and the occupation of Iraq could be counter productive in the preventing terrorism as these components would rally support for Bin Laden and inspire some individuals to carry out  acts of terror. The British Prime Minister at the time Tony Blair was personally made aware of this assessment but chose to disregard it. Subsequently the intelligence analysis was proven to be accurate.

On March 11th 2004 in Madrid Spain 191 people were killed and over 1800 injured when ten bombs exploded on commuter trains. The attacks known as the ‘Madrid Bombings’ together constituted the worst ever terrorist attack in Europe. 21 people were imprisoned for the attacks. On July 7th 2005 in London UK 52 people were killed and over 700 injured when three suicide bombers blew themselves up on the London Undergound (Metro) system and a fourth man blew himself on a London bus   Before and after these attacks there were other small terrorist attacks in London.

Investigations after the bombings in London and Madrid revealed they were carried out by individuals who were inspired and sympathetic to Al-Qaeda. Many were born and bred or nationals of the country where the attacks where carried out. Often referred to as ‘home grown terrorists’  they were not an  Al-Qaeda cell on a SAS or Mossad type of operation or  financed by the Al-Qaeda National Bank. (Europe) PLC. Since the London and Madrid Bombings several other serious attacks have stopped by security services in France Germany and the UK. Many of the people imprisoned for planning these attacks fit the ‘home grown persona’ profile. The issue for the police and security services through out Europe is how many more individuals or small groups harbour the same ambitions/

Those who know about these things know that ‘taking out’ of Bin Laden and the cessation of the iraq War along with the phased retreat from Afghanistan is not going to result in security personnel all over Europe having to sign on for unemployment benefit. In the last five years of his life capacity to plan and;direct terrorist operation waned and other faces who posed a greater threat were of more interest.

When Bin Laden was ‘taken out’  the American authorities scored political points but his death has not made the world a safer place. The legacy of Bin Laden and the two wars is there are now many more people than before 9/11 who are prepared to sacrifice their own lives and kill masses of other people   How many people feel like this is an ‘unknown’ and the actual threat they pose is impossible to quantify. .

This is partly because there is no obvious profile of a terrorist – they don’t walk around wearing ”I love Bin Laden t-shirts’, are rarely politically ‘active’ and not inclined to publicise their views on Facebook. . In fact some of those involved in terrorism in Britain have been professional people working in fields such as education and health. Curiously some are not dissimilar to the ‘Cambridge Five’ who during the early years of the Cold War after graduating from university joined the British Foreign Office. Some of them believed in Soviet style communism but because  their  political leanings were unknown they they were able to work for MI6. As their careers progressed these ‘sleepers’ as they were later described became well established in the hierarchy of the security service at which point they began working for the Russians as double agents.

People who have conviction and passion for their beliefs will otten spend years trying to achieve their objectives. The 9/11 attacks for example are thought to have taken five years to orchestrate and the London Bombings at least two.  At the same time people’s emotions and ambhitions can be enduring and it is unlikely that those inspired by Bin Laden or offended by the rhetoric surrounding the Afghanistan and Iraq wars  are going to feel a whole lot better about present American British and European foreign policies any time soon. Thus the threat of terrorism will remain and the intelligence services will respond accordingly but their battle would be easier if it was not undermined by political  rhetoric.

Current Terrorist Risk Assessments

Accurately assessing the level of risk of a terrorist threat or actual terror attack in Europe by Al-Qaeda or those iof a similar mindset in an individual European country is not an appraisal that euromost is qualified to make. However following bombings in London and Madrid who’s governments were high profile players in the ‘War on Terror’ one consideration you could make is that the greater a nations contribution to this campaign the higher the risk of their experiencing terrorism.

However countries who’s military contribution may not have been substantial in military terms could still be more vulnerable than others. One example is Denmark  where in 2008  a newspaper published anti Islamic cartoons. At present security and intelligence officers all EU Capitals are aware of that they may could be victims of a terroristt In May 2012 security vigilance in London Moscow Paris Berlin Madrid and Copenhagen were higher than in most other cities.

Increased security vigilance does not indicate that an attack is imminent but it acknowledges that the risk of an attack may be greater than normal. particularly at large scale public events. An example of this are the Olympics which have been regarded as a prime or prestigious target since the terrorist attack at the 1972 Munich Olympics. In this incident 8 members of Black September a  Palestinian terrorist organization broke into the building host  Israeli athletes in Olympic Village. Two athletes were killed instantly and another nine were held hostage before being killed in a gun battle at Munich Airport when the attackers tried to the hostages out of the Germany.

This does not mean we should be afraid to travel outside our front door or to go to festivals – the world cup – the Olympics etc or travel abroad. That said we will have to accept and should welcome that  a times we will have to go through security procedures such as those in operation at airports across Europe and worldwide. These procedures can be tiresome but they make it extremely difficult for terrorists to achieve their objectives and facilitate our continued freedom. We  be vigilant and support those who’s job it is to protect  us. If that means smiling at an armed policeman at an airport on a railway station fair enough

If you see any thing suspicious ring the authorities notify the an official or the authorities immediately. Where ever you are in Europe or the UK dial 112



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