Terrorism and extremism weekly summary 30 October - 5 November

Europe

On Tuesday 31 October, the Belgian police arrested and charged two perpetrators of the August 2015 terrorist attack on a high-speed train from Amsterdam to Paris after a series of arrests in Molenbeek, Anderlecht and Laken. On Thursday 2 November, the mayor of Molenbeek Françoise Schepmans banned a planned rally held by the Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders and Belgian anti-immigrant politician Filip Dewinter. The rally was to take place shortly after local elections in a Muslim neighbourhood perceived to be connected to Islamist radicalism. The ban was put in place due to fears of violation of public order.

In Schwerin, Germany, a 19-year-old Syrian national was arrested by the GSG special unit on 31 October due to suspicion of planning a bombing attack. The arrested man called himself a “fighter for the caliphate” and was in contact with other jihadists over the internet. He decided to commit the attack sometime in July and has been buying materials to build a bomb on the internet since then. The target of the attack is not known so far.

America

On 31 October in Lower Manhattan, New York, Saifullah Saipov, an Uzbek migrant, drove a van into a group of people on a pedestrian and bicycle trail, killed eight people and injured 12 more. Afterwards he crashed into a school bus and ran into the street armed with an airgun and a paintball gun. Shortly after, he was shot by the police and transferred to a hospital in a critical condition. On Thursday 2 November he was charged with terrorism. He told the investigators that he proceeded according to a manual by the Islamic State (IS) and intended to kill as many people as possible. The attack raised concerns about growing extremism within the Uzbek minority in the US. According to a report by Soufran Center, 129 US citizens left to Iraq to fight for the IS, only seven have returned so far.

Russia and post-Soviet space

Moscow and 36 other Russian cities experienced a wave of arrests after a nationalist blogger and Youtuber Vyacheslav Malcev called for a revolution against the ruling elite around President Vladimir Putin, which was supposed to take place on 5 November. In Moscow, 376 people were arrested during the operation, 36 more people were arrested in other cities. According to the Russian news agency TASS, the officials have seized firearms, knives, boxers and clubs. Malcev escaped abroad this July after an investigation was started against him for extremist activities. His Artpodgotovka movement was labelled extremist in October.

Middle East and North Africa

On 31 October, a suicide attack took place near the Canadian, British and US Embassies in Kabul, Afghanistan, and killed at least four people and injured over 20. The following day, 1 November, a bomb placed onto a fuel tank exploded in the town of Charikar in northern Afghanistan. This attack claimed 15 victims, at least 27 people were injured and no one has claimed responsibility for it so far.

On Wednesday 1 November, an Islamist radical attacked and injured two policemen with a knife in front of the Tunisian parliament. One of the policemen was transferred to a hospital with a stab wound in his neck, the other one only had light injuries. The attacker was arrested immediately afterwards. He was known to hold radical Islamist views by the officials.

According to a statement by Turkish officials from 2 November, 283 people suspected of cooperation with the IS have been arrested in the past ten days and 66 improvised explosive devices have been found in 25 of the 81 Turkish provinces. The officials refused to share the nationalities on arrested foreigners.

A suicide attack committed by the IS in Syria on Sunday 5 November resulted in at least 75 dead and 140 injured, including women and children. A car loaded with explosives detonated on a road frequently used for the transport of supplies into IS-controlled territory. People who left the town of Deir ez-Zor due to the fighting there were likely the target of the attack.

Another suicide attack took place in Aden, Yemen, on Sunday, when an attacker drove a car loaded with explosive into the front gate of the security forces headquarters. A shootout between Islamists and members of the security forces took place following the explosion. At least seven soldiers died in the attack, which the IS claimed responsibility for.

About author: Jan Merička

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