Europol: Islamist terrorism has sharply declined
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Terrorist attacks in the European Union fell by a third between 2008 and 2009 the bloc's intelligence coordination agency, Europol, said Wednesday.
The total number of foiled, failed or successful attacks decreased from 441 to 294, with most of them being carried out by Basque separatists in France and Spain and Corsican separatists in France.
The number of people arrested in connection with Islamist terrorism declined sharply, falling to 110 compared to 187 in 2008 and 201 in 2007. Most took place in Spain (40) and France (37). Only one Islamist terrorist attack, in Italy, was successful in 2009.
But despite the encouraging figures, which do not include Britain, Europol said EU member states "should not drop [their] guard."
"Terrorism remains a significant security threat to our society and citizens. Islamist terrorists remain active inside and outside the EU to mount indiscriminate attacks in public," the Hague-based agency's director, Rob Wainwright, said in a statement.
Europol mentioned the failed bomb attack last December on a plane flying from Amsterdam to Detroit, carried out by a Nigerian national educated in Britain.
Islamist terrorism was "influenced by political developments in countries and areas outside the EU that include Iraq, Afghanistan, the Afghanistan/Pakistan border area, Somalia and Yemen," and countries with a military presence in Muslim countries "reported being at risk," the EU agency stressed.
On the basis of information received from Germany, Europol also said that Islamists were using propaganda to try to influence "the outcome of general elections in EU countries" and warned that EU nationals returning from conflict areas or terrorist training camps abroad "may pose a serious threat."
The single successful Islamist attack recorded last year in Europe took place in Milan in October, when a Libyan national trying to enter a military barracks set off an explosive device he was carrying.
He suffered severe burns, while inflicting slight wounds on one of the guards that tried to stop him.
Left-wing and anarchic terrorism also took place in 2009, but was
concentrated in Spain and Greece, with 23 and 15 attacks being
reported respectively. Hungary hosted all 4 right-wing incidents that
There were also two cases of so-called "single issue terrorism," one each in Austria and France, attributed to animal rights extremists, while 10 other attacks of unspecified nature were recorded in the two countries
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