Nahla Abdel Moneim
In mid-June 2023, Europol issued its annual report on patterns and trends of terrorism over the past year, along with assessments of the security situation in European Union countries.
The report presents the vision of European politicians about the most prominent changes for them in the terrorism file, as these reports are a summary of what governments adopt towards an issue. Accordingly, Europol declared that takfirist terrorist groups are the security concern of the countries of the region in this context.
Figures on terrorism in the EU
The report indicated that there were 28 terrorist operations in the European Union during 2022, including those that were completed, those that failed, and those that were thwarted before implementation, which means an increase in the rates of operations in 2022 compared to those in 2021, when 18 cases were recorded.
The year 2020 remains the highest in terms of operations, as it witnessed 56 cases. The largest percentage was for Italy, followed by France, then Greece, then Belgium, Germany and Spain. The latest report on the situation of terrorism in the European Union studies attacks and those involved in extremism during the years from 2020 to 2022.
According to the statistics, the year 2020 witnessed 56 attacks (completed, failed, or thwarted), in addition to 449 arrests of suspects in the terrorism file, while there were 18 attacks in 2021 as classified by the study, in addition to 388 arrests.
Regarding the financing of terrorism, Europol statistics indicate that there are increasing legal measures to undermine suspicious financing of violence, monitor the collection of funds and donations, and monitor the transactions of financial services companies and money transfer platforms. During the year 2022, the authorities arrested 380 people, including 14 involved in terrorist financing cases. The most prominent of these cases was a case of transferring money to ISIS cells in Libya through a suspicious cash network in Spain. The authorities have also monitored the existence of networks of other extremist currents that help them finance their activities.
What is remarkable about the latest statistics is that the numbers of attacks and those arrested in this context included takfirists, as well as elements of the far right and the far left. Despite this, the takfirist movement is the most threatening to EU countries, according to Europol.
Terrorism challenges in the EU
Some EU countries have resorted to changing their legal texts in order to be able to confront terrorism with its new challenges. In Switzerland, the government reformulated some articles to suit the emerging developments in this file, as well as France, which issued a legal draft called “Principles of the New Republic”.
However, the laws introduced in Europe face increasing fears of their potential impact on the values of human rights and personal and public freedoms, as well as the international responsibilities entrusted to governments to carry them. For example, many governments, led by the United States during the term of former President Donald Trump, called for the need for European countries to restore their citizens who joined ISIS from conflict areas, but some authorities rejected this request, and Britain even resorted to drafting new laws that enable it to withdraw its nationality from these ISIS elements without notifying them in order to get rid of these burdens.
For its part, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime indicated in a research paper presented on combating terrorism in Europe that the human rights file has a special character in EU institutions’ legal treatment of the issue of extremism, and the region must abide by these special connections in order to preserve the values of the region.