Terrorism and extremism weekly summary 22 - 28 May

Europe

At London's Stansted Airport, a 37-year-old man suspected of planning a terrorist attack was detained on Tuesday, 23 May. The man was allegedly planning to fly to Syria through Turkey. His identity has not been revealed yet and the man is currently in custody. A connection with the Manchester attack has not yet been confirmed. All security forces in Great Britain are at the highest alert level after the incident, and the army was also deployed under the Operation Temperer. In South London, four men suspected of planning a terrorist attack were detained on 17 May. No firearms or explosives were found on them; the planned attack was to be carried out with cold weapons and vehicles.

In connection with the Manchester attack, raids and police investigations are happening across Britain. According to the latest information, the police evacuated Moss Side in Manchester on Saturday, 27 May, and army pyrotechnics were called to the spot. Two men suspected of terrorist activities were also arrested on Saturday night in Cheetham Hill. These activities aim to uncover and then break the entire network around attacker Salman Abedi.

Several explosive devices were found during house searches in the German town of Neukirchen-Vluyn in North Rhine-Westphalia. They were mostly devices and components to construct a functional bomb. Some legally and illegally held weapons were also found on the spot. 27-year-old Ozkan G. was detained on suspicion of planning a violent attack. According to the investigators, the man allegedly had radical religious tendencies in the past, however, according to available information, he most likely did not manage to establish links in any Islamist circles so far.

The Parisian Place de la République was evacuated on Friday, 26 May, due to the threat of a bomb attack. The bomb was supposedly planted in a parked vehicle. The whole area was closed but further details have not been revealed yet. A month ago, a policeman was killed on Champs-Élysées during a terrorist attack, and the Place de la République has been evacuated before, due to a false alarm after the November 2015 attacks.

Two men of Syrian nationality, one of them a minor, were detained on Saturday, 27 May, in the Italian port town of Pozzallo. Both men were registered in Italy since the end of April. One of them had false identification documents. Pictures of suicide belts with explosives and messages and photos with Islamist slogans were found in the cell phones of both detainees. Currently, the investigation is still ongoing and possible links of both men to terrorist groups are being examined.

Russia and post-Soviet space

Four men were detained by Russian security forces on Thursday, 25 May, in Moscow, on the basis of being suspected of connection to the Islamic State (IS). The arrested men are allegedly members of the Takfir group, a group connected to the IS, and were accused of planning a bomb attack against Moscow's public transport system. According to the FSB, Russian intelligence agency,  both Russian citizens and citizens of Central Asian republics were among the detainees. In addition to automatic weapons and grenades, a laboratory was found during the operation where explosives were being made. According to the secured materials, the group was organised from Syria, where it also intended to flee after committing the planned attacks in Moscow.

The Middle East

An attack on a bus carrying Coptic Christians occurred on Friday, 26 May, in Egypt. The attackers killed 28 people, including women and children. The attack took place on a road between the town of Minya, about 225 km south of Cairo, and the Coptic Monastery, where three buses with believers were heading. Attackers with vehicles and automatic weapons set up a trap by the road, just a few miles from the city. A truck carrying workers was heading in the same direction, eight workers were killed during the attack, perpetrated by Islamists. After the massacre, the attackers left flyers with Islamist content on the spot. The responsibility for the attack was not officially claimed yet, but suspicion falls on the Islamic state, which has previously targeted Egypt's Christian minority.

Up to 18 people were killed and 10 injured on Saturday, 27 May, in the city of Khost, Afghanistan, in a suicide attack committed using a truck full of explosives. The attack, aimed at local police units and US troops, took place on the first day of Ramadan, yet, paradoxically, caused most casualties among civilians. The responsibility for the incident has not been claimed yet, but the suspicion falls on the Taliban. This is due to the fact, that after representatives of the United Nations mission (UNAMA) called for peace during Ramadan, the Taliban's leaders announced their intention to intensify their attacks during the period.

About author: Redakce ESJ

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