Fighting Terrorism Top Priority for Europol

Wednesday, 08 May, 2013

Rise in terror attacks in Europe

Findings from Europol's latest strategic analysis product - the 2013 EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report - show how the total number of terrorist attacks and related arrests in the EU significantly increased in 2012.

The report describes a threat from terrorism that remains strong and varied in Europe. It continues to evolve from one posed by structured groups and networks to smaller EU-based groups and solo terrorists, while the Internet remains a key facilitator for terrorism-related activities.

The terrorist bomb attack at Burgas airport in Bulgaria, and the shootings by a lone gunman in France, claimed the lives of 14 people in 2012 and illustrate the serious threat that terrorism poses to the European Union and its citizens. Three other citizens also lost their lives to terrorism in 2012, in separate attacks in Belgium, France and Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, increasing numbers of radicalised EU citizens travelled to regions of conflict to engage in terrorist activities. "There is growing concern about the threat posed by these people, given the possibility of their returning to the European Union intent on committing acts of terrorism", says Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol.

The main figures for 2012 are:

219 terrorist attacks in EU Member States (up from 174 in 2011)
537 individuals arrested in the EU for terrorist related offences (up from 484 in 2011)
17 people died as a result of terrorist attacks in the EU.
400 individuals in concluded court proceedings for terrorism charges.

A number of firearms related incidents occurred across the EU in 2012, the most prominent of which involved a religiously inspired solo terrorist, who shot and killed seven people in France. In the course of separate investigations, weapons and ammunition were also found with other religiously inspired cells in 2012. Furthermore, fatal and non-fatal shootings have been carried out by separatist terrorists and anarchists.

The Internet remains an essential communication platform for terrorist organisations and their sympathisers, enabling increasingly widespread access, anonymity and connection to a global audience that can be addressed in a targeted way.

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