Islamic State Plans Attacks From Camps in Europe, Europol Saysby
EU crime-fighting agency expects more strikes on soft targets
November's multi-location murders in Paris seen as model
Islamic State has set up a special operations command to mastermind more terrorist attacks on “soft targets” in Europe, drawing on training camps on European soil and with France as the most at-risk country, the European Union’s crime-fighting agency said.
The model is the simultaneous shootings at several locations in Paris in November which killed 130, with most of the bloodshed at a concert hall in eastern Paris, said the agency, known as Europol.
It is possible that similar operations “are currently being planned and prepared,” Europol said in a report released on Monday during a meeting of EU interior ministers in Amsterdam. “The wide range of possible targets in combination with an opportunistic approach of locally based groups creates a huge variety of possible scenarios for future terrorist events.”
While Syria remains the hub, Islamic State has set up “smaller scale” training camps in the 28-nation EU and in the Balkans, granting local operatives greater tactical freedom to strike at will, Europol said.
France has no evidence of terrorist indoctrination camps on its soil, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters. While calling the threat level “high” in Europe and “extremely high” in France, he said the Europol assessment dates to early December and doesn’t go beyond what France has already disclosed.
“The problem isn’t national: it’s European, it’s global,” Cazeneuve said. He backed initiatives to clamp down on arms trafficking, enforce full passport screenings of all travelers to Europe and link up passenger and criminal databases.
The terror effect of massacring unprotected civilians has led Islamic State to favor “soft targets” over infrastructure such as electrical lines, nuclear plants or transport networks, Europol said.