Friday, December 2, 2016

New Europol report claims that ISIS may switch tactics in Europe

An ISIS flag. Reuters.

A new Europol report suggests that the threat from ISIS is still critical in Europe and that the terror group is considering new tactics. Reuters. The EU police force claims that there are "dozens" of ISIS fighters already in Europe with more arriving as ISIS faces defeat in Syria and Iraq. Though ISIS will likely continue the hybrid mass shooting/suicide bombings that they have successfully used in Europe before, it is possible that ISIS will adopt tactics that have worked for them in Iraq and Syria, including kidnappings, extortion and car bombings. Power grids and nuclear sites could also come under attack. ISIS is also planning to infiltrate migrant and refugee camps in Europe and use those camps as a base of operations. 

My Comments:
The Europol report can be found here. The report is only 14 pages long so if you have the time, it's worth it to read the whole thing. There is a round up of all the terror attacks that ISIS has been responsible for since 2014 as well. It is pretty extensive and though the Reuters report is a good summary, but they didn't cover everything.

Here's a few things that the Reuters article left out from the report.

-ISIS seems to be starting things up in Libya again. Even though they have largely been crushed, the remnants of the organization there are regrouping and will use the country as a launchpad to attack Europe. This is nothing new, as several major terror attacks were planned in Libya, but it is disconcerting that ISIS is starting to recover there.  

-France and Belgium are being targeted especially for terror attacks for historical reasons. Both countries also have huge Muslim populations to recruit from. 

-Germany is at risk due to the large number of migrants and refugees that arrived in the past couple of years. 

-Al-Qaeda and al-Nusra Front are also threats to Europe and al-Qaeda is suspected to be planning kidnappings. The victims of those kidnappings will be traded for captured Jihadists. 

-Most ISIS terror attacks are merely inspired by the organization. Lone wolf attackers are more common then actual terror plots from the group. This is despite the fact that there are dozens of ISIS operatives active in Europe right now. 

-ISIS prefers to get fully automatic rifles for their attacks, which they easily obtain from their extensive links with criminal organizations.

-ISIS has attempted to launch chemical and biological attacks. One cell in Morocco was broken up but not before they had produced home made chemical and biological toxins.

What's my take on all this? Well, it's not anything all that shocking. We knew for a long time that ISIS was going to be very active in Europe for the foreseeable future. Indeed, it seems as though most of the conclusions drawn in this report are ones that I and others have said for a long time. 

Still, some of the details are disturbing. The fact that an ISIS cell was able to get a hold of chemical and biological weapons is a very bad sign. Though the cell was in Morocco, any chemical or biological attack outside of Syria and Iraq would be a game changer. Especially if westerners were targeted. 

It is also discouraging that ISIS may resort to kidnapping and extortion in Europe. These tactics have been extremely effective for ISIS and has functioned as a major money maker for them in Syria and Iraq. If this starts to happen in Europe, not only is it a new phase in the war, they can use the money that they make from it to fund further attacks. 

ISIS's links to the criminal underground in Europe hasn't really been talked about too much but it is something that should be pretty obvious. After all, they have to be getting their weapons and explosives from somewhere. I've always suspected strong links there but I haven't really heard too much confirming it until now. 

So what is next for Europe? I think this report is basically accurate. Europe has a huge ISIS problem and the situation is getting so bad that I think it is almost more accurate to call it a war instead of a terrorist problem. Right now it feels like a low scale insurgency, or at least it would if there were more open battles. I think that is the direction that the war is heading though. If and when Iraq and Syria are liberated, potentially hundreds or even thousands of ISIS fighters will pour into Europe. Once their they will raise recruits and may start an open insurgency... 

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