Islamic State possibly planning more attacks in Europe, Europol warns

Revelation 6:3-4 NCV When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, "Come!" Then another horse came out, a red one. Its rider was given power to take away peace (prosperity, rest) from the earth and to make people kill each other (butcher, slaughter, to maim violently, in streets), and he was given a big sword (assassins sword, terrorist, loud, mighty, sore afraid).

The Islamic State is believed to be planning additional terrorist attacks against targets in France and the European Union, according to a new report from the union’s law enforcement agency.

Europol issued a public report on the Islamic State on Monday, writing “there is every reason to expect” the organization, or those inspired by it, would carry out another attack. The agency also wrote there’s a chance of attacks from lone-actor terrorists, or other religiously inspired groups.

The report, which does not mention a specific future terrorist threat, draws its conclusions from a meeting of more than 50 counterterrorism officials from throughout the European Union. The discussions were held November 30 and December 1, a little more than two weeks after the Islamic State killed 130 people during Nov. 13 terrorist attacks at various locations across Paris.

The report highlights what Europol believes is an adjustment in the Islamic State’s game plan.

It indicates the Paris attacks, as well as the investigation into them, “appear to indicate a shift towards a broader strategy of (the Islamic State) going global,” and evidence suggests the group is planning “special forces style attacks” in foreign countries. It warns of the possibility of additional attacks against France, or other European Union nations, “in the near future.”

It was released the same day that Europol opened its European Counter Terrorism Centre in The Hague, Netherlands. In a news release announcing the opening, Europol said the continent “is currently facing the most significant terrorist threat in over 10 years,” and the center would help officials share terrorism intelligence and coordinate responses to any potential acts of violence.

The report offers insight into Europol’s intelligence on the Islamic State’s recruitment, training, financing and planning methods.

It addresses public fears that terrorists are exploiting the ongoing migrant crisis to enter Europe, in some cases posing as refugees to get into the union undetected. The report says there is “no concrete evidence” that terrorists are systematically using the refugee system that way, though acknowledged it’s possible some Syrian refugees “may be vulnerable” to radicalization.

The report also outlines how quickly the Islamic State can recruit foreigners — particularly younger people, who can be more impressionable and vulnerable. It indicates 20 percent or more of the Islamic State’s foreign fighters had been diagnosed with a mental problem before joining the group, and up to 80 percent of the foreign fighters had some kind of criminal record.

Europol’s report indicated that attacks aren’t necessarily coordinated from Syria, an Islamic State stronghold, and that the leaders of local cells are given “tactical freedom” to make adjustments as they see fit. It notes the Islamic State’s documented ability to “strike at will,” but noted the group has a preference for attacking soft targets — those unable to defend themselves — to kill as many people as possible.

The report noted similarities between the Paris attacks and attacks against Mumbai in 2008, as both had comparable targets, weapons and death tolls.

Europol says cyber attacks or plots against power grids or similar targets “is currently not a priority” for the Islamic State, though the report indicates it’s possible the organization could pursue “cyber-attacks targeting critical infrastructures and state security” against Western nations in the future.

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