RE­TURN­ING TER­ROR­ISTS WORRY EUROPE

The Washington Times Daily - - WORLD - Con­tact Bill Gertz on Twit­ter at @Bil­lGertz.

A State Depart­ment se­cu­rity re­port is warning that large num­bers of Euro­peans who trav­eled to the Mid­dle East to fight for the Is­lamic State ter­ror group are set to re­turn to their home coun­tries, pos­ing an in­creased ter­ror­ism threat.

“Over the past five years, an un­prece­dented num­ber of Euro­peans have trav­eled to Syria and Iraq to fight or train with ter­ror­ist groups op­er­at­ing in the con­flict zone,” the Dec. 22 re­port said. “How­ever, since many re­main in the the­ater their even­tual re­turn may pro­long the height­ened risk en­vi­ron­ment which has come to be known as West­ern Europe’s ‘new nor­mal.’”

A to­tal of 21 of the 50 Is­lamist at­tacks in West­ern Europe since 1994 in­volved Euro­peans who re­ceived ter­ror train­ing abroad.

“The 21 at­tacks in­clude most of the high-pro­file, mass-ca­su­alty Is­lamist ter­ror­ist at­tacks that West­ern Europe has ex­pe­ri­enced since Is­lamist ter­ror­ism first emerged in the re­gion ap­prox­i­mately two decades ago, in­clud­ing the 2004 bomb­ings in Madrid (191 killed); the 2005 bomb­ings in Lon­don (52 killed); the 2015 at­tack against Char­lie Hebdo in Paris (12 killed); the Novem­ber 2015 at­tacks in Paris (132 killed); and the March 2016 at­tacks in Brus­sels (32 killed).”

The truck at­tack in Nice, France in July that killed 86 was car­ried out by an Is­lamist with no for­eign train­ing or fight­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

For­eign train­ing “sug­gests that com­bat and mil­i­tary train­ing re­ceived over­seas may in­crease the lethal­ity of per­pe­tra­tors,” the re­port by the Over­seas Se­cu­rity Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil said.

Syria and Iraq were the main for­eign ter­ror­ist train­ing grounds with up to 7,000 Euro­peans trav­el­ing there since 2014.

The re­port said Euro­pean gov­ern­ments are con­cerned that progress in at­tack­ing the Is­lamic State in its Syr­ian and Iraqi bases will force more Euro­pean ter­ror­ists back to the con­ti­nent. Some 2,100 Euro­pean fight­ers al­ready have re­turned home, and to date three at­tacks were linked to these re­turn­ing Is­lamic State ter­ror­ists.

Euro­pean au­thor­i­ties have claimed that asy­lum seek­ers from the Mid­dle East have not been not used for in­fil­tra­tion by ter­ror­ists. But the State Depart­ment said “there is ev­i­dence that some have, in­clud­ing mem­bers of the cell be­hind the Novem­ber 13 at­tacks in Paris.”

Asy­lum seek­ers in Ger­many also con­ducted ter­ror­ist at­tacks, in­clud­ing a July 18 ax at­tack in Wurzburg, a July 24 sui­cide bomb­ing in Ans­bach, and the De­cem­ber 19 truck ram­ming of a Christ­mas mar­ket in the heart of Ber­lin.

The dan­ger of at­tacks in Europe will re­quire in­creased se­cu­rity vig­i­lance “as the height­ened ‘new nor­mal’ risk is ex­pected to per­sist for the time be­ing,” the re­port con­cluded.

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