The IHS British Center warned of the danger of exporting terrorism to European countries through foreign fighters returning to these countries, after they fought with ISIL in Iraq and Syria.
The Center said in a detailed analysis that returning foreign fighters raise the risk of complex and widespread terrorist attacks in Europe, according to a new report released by the Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre.
“In response to its territorial collapse in Iraq and Syria, ISIL is likely to widen its tactical arsenal, employ new technologies and strengthen its roots in local Islamist networks, building resilience despite the losses in its heartlands,” said Otso Iho, senior analyst, JTIC. “In addition to centrally-planned and executed operations, there also remains a substantial threat from lone actors conducting attacks in the name of the Islamic State, which are usually then claimed by the group,” Iho said.
In Western Europe in 2018 to date, JTIC has recorded 44 attacks by pro-Islamic State individuals or small cells, causing at least 334 fatalities and 1,248 wounded.
“Foreign fighters returning to Europe will provide critical skills that will help an increasing number of operational Islamist networks conduct more complex attacks,” Iho said. Adding : “There is also the potential for escalating attacks to include methods used routinely in Iraq and Syria, such as vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) and suicide VBIEDs”.
There are indicators that some cells have already attempted to adopt this method. For example, the cell that conducted the 17 August 2017 vehicle-impact and knife attacks in Barcelona had been using a safe house to prepare a substantial amount of explosives.
According to Catalan police after the incident, the materials discovered at the bomb-making site included the explosive triacetone triperoxide (TATP), used in the high-profile attacks in Paris and Brussels, as well as more than 120 butane gas tanks and an explosive suicide belt.