Europol TE-SAT 2021
On 22 June 2021, Europol published its EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report (TE-SAT) 2021, which gives an overview of terrorist attacks and terrorism-related arrests in the EU in 2020. For the TE-SAT reports for previous years, → eucrim 2/2020, 95; eucrim 2/2019, 99; and eucrim 2/2018, 97. In three main chapters, the report analyses the situation regarding Jihadist, right-wing/left-wing, and anarchist terrorism.
The year 2020 saw a total of 57 completed, failed, and foiled terrorist attacks in six EU Member States, with 21 people dead and 54 people injured. In addition, 62 terrorist incidents were reported by the UK. EU Member States reported 449 individuals arrested on suspicion of terrorism-related offences in the EU in 2020. 185 arrests were reported by the UK.
According to the report, more Jihadist terrorist attacks were completed than thwarted in 2020. All 15 of the terrorist attacks ‒ in the EU (10), Switzerland (2 probable terrorist attacks), and the UK (3) ‒ were carried out by lone actors from diverse backgrounds, most of them using unsophisticated attack methods. A considerable number of these perpetrators were released convicts or prisoners, which reveals the effects of Jihadist radicalisation and recruitment in prison as well as the threat stemming from released prisoners. The return of foreign terrorist fighters to Europe in 2020 was affected by COVID-19 travel restrictions with hundreds of Europeans remaining in detention camps in Northeast Syria. Furthermore, the take-down of the messenger service Telegram in 2019 had large effect to decrease Jihadist networking and operating online.
Regarding right-wing terrorism, one attack was completed by a lone actor in Germany. Three more right-wing terrorist attacks failed or were foiled in Belgium, France, and Germany. As stated in the report, suspects arrested for planning right-wing terrorist or extremist attacks are increasingly young and some are minors.
In the field of left-wing terrorism, Italy reported 24 left-wing and anarchist terrorist attacks and one attack was foiled in France. The number of arrests of left-wing extremists dropped in 2020 by more than a half compared to 2019. Europol found that left-wing and anarchists extremists addressed new topics in 2020, such as scepticism about technological and scientific developments, COVID-19 containment measures and environmental issues.
Lastly, the report lists no fundamental changes to the core terrorist modi operandi due to COVID-19 as terrorist groups and individuals tried to integrate the pandemic into their behaviors.