Cities in Europe are haunted by terror because of their support for Israel. Photo/Reuters
LONDON – European security officials see a growing risk of attacks by Islamic groups radicalized by the Israel-Hamas war, with the biggest threat likely to come from hard-to-trace “lone wolf” attackers.
More than 10 intelligence and police officials in five European countries including Britain, Germany and France told Reuters they were increasing surveillance of Islamist militants.
This will put a further strain on already strained resources in the face of threats from Russia, China and Iran, in what London police chief Mark Rowley called “one of the most challenging convergences of threats I have ever seen.”
A British security official said the war in Gaza would likely be the biggest recruitment drive for Islamist militants since the Iraq war in 2003, and calls to attack Jewish and Western targets had increased in Europe.
German sources briefed by intelligence agencies say the threat to civilians is the highest in German history, with dangers coming from Islamist militants, far-right groups and Russia.
Two Islamic militant attacks in France and Belgium last month killed three people, and both countries, Austria, Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina have raised their terrorism threat alert levels. Italy has reimposed border controls with Slovenia, citing the risk of militants entering the country.
“There will be devastating impacts that will be felt for years,” the British official said.
Deaths from Islamist attacks in Europe spiked between 2004 and 2006, when attacks were inspired by Al Qaeda, and peaked again from 2015 to 2018, when attacks were inspired by ISIS.
The threat to Europe today is likely to look very different.
ISIS and Al Qaeda recruit thousands of foreign fighters and have the ability to plan coordinated and synchronized attacks in Europe from the relative safety of Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.