EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2019
The EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2019 (TE-SAT 2019) was recently published. It outlines the latest developments with regard to jihadist terrorism, ethno-nationalist and separatist terrorism, left-wing and anarchist terrorism, right-wing terrorism, and single-issue terrorism.
Looking at jihadist terrorism, key observations from the year 2018 indicate that all fatalities from terrorism in 2018 were the results of jihadist attacks committed by terrorist acting alone and targeted at civilians as well as symbols of authority. The number of fatalities dropped from 62 people in 2017 to 13 in 2018. While completed jihadist attacks were carried out using firearms and unsophisticated, readily available weapons, several disrupted terrorist plots included the attempted production and use of explosives and chemical/biological materials. A general increase in chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) terrorist propaganda, tutorials, and threats was also observed. Although activities by the Islamic State (IS) decreased in 2018, IS still intends to carry out attacks outside of conflict zones. Both IS and al-Qaida keep up a strong online presence, seeking new multipliers for their propaganda. Still, no terrorist group demonstrated the capacity to carry out effective cyberattacks in 2018. The number of European foreign terrorist fighters travelling, or attempting to travel, to the Iraqi and Syrian conflict zones, was very low in 2018 but a shift in focus can be seen towards carrying out attacks in the EU. In addition, the number of returnees to the EU remained very low in 2018. According to the report, there seems to be no systematic abuse of migration flows by terrorists entering the EU. In particular, minors returning to the EU are at the heart of Member States’ concerns, as these persons are victims, on the one hand, but have been exposed to indoctrination and training, on the other.
Looking at ethno-nationalist and separatist terrorism, the report reveals that these attacks greatly outnumber other types of terrorist attacks in 2018. Although the number of attacks linked to left-wing and right-wing terrorism was still relatively low, the number of arrests linked to right-wing terrorism continued to markedly increase. Terrorism financing is still intensively being conducted via the Hawala banking instrument (transfer or remittance of values from one party to another, without use of a formal financial institution such as a bank or money exchange).
In total, 129 foiled, failed, and completed attacks were reported by EU Member States in 2018, with the highest number of attacks having been experienced by the UK (60). 1056 individuals were arrested in the EU on suspicion of terrorism-related offences, with the highest number of arrests in France (310). 17 EU Member States reported convicting or acquitting 653 persons of terrorist offences in 2018, the average prison sentence being seven years.