Terrorism and extremism weekly summary 21 - 27 August

Europe

On Friday 25 August, a 26-year-old man attacked a police unit near Buckingham Palace in London after getting into a restricted access zone in a car. According to some sources, he attacked the policemen with a big knife, possibly even a sword, the witness accounts vary on this. The police used tear gas and subdued the man, two policemen were lightly injured. The incident is investigated as an act of terrorism, as the man was allegedly shouting Islamist slogans during the attack. Following the incident, a 30-year-old man, likely the attacker's accomplice, was arrested in west London on Sunday 27 August and is now investigated for assistance in the preparation of a terrorist attack.

According to investigators, the attacker who killed 13 people in Barcelona on Thursday 17 August planned to carry out even larger attacks using explosives. The investigation concerns an entire Islamist cell which was lead and radicalised by a local imam. The accused men are Mohamed Houli Chemlal, Driss Oukabir and Salh El Karib, all Morrocans. A fourth suspect, Mohammed Aalla, was released due to lack of evidence. The aforementioned Imam, Abdelbaki Es Satty, died the day before the Barcelona attack in his home when supplies stored there to be used by the group in suicide bombings exploded. The investigation also showed possible ties of the suspects to Islamic State cells in Belgium.

On Wednesday 23 August, the police in Rotterdam, Netherlands, arrested a man of Spanish nationality who was transporting canisters with unidentified gas in his van. The police were tipped off by their Spanish colleagues, the man was headed to the Maassilo concert hall where a concert by a Californian rock group was taking place. The concert was ended early by the police, the man's identity has not been disclosed so far.

In Brussels, Belgium, a 30-year-old man of Somali origin attacked two patrolling soldiers with a knife on Friday 25 August. The man tried to ambush the soldiers and shouted Islamist slogans during the attack but was spotted by the soldiers who shot him several times. The man later died at a hospital from the injuries, the soldiers were only lightly injured. A terrorist motive has not been officially confirmed yet but is highly likely. The man had a firearm replica and two copies of the Quran on him.

German GSG-9 elite police unit was deployed in Alt Bartelsdorf and Banzkow in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania in the early morning of Monday 28 August against a group of people suspected of preparing terrorist attacks on left-wing politicians. The group was worried that liberal policy views on migration will jeopardise the country and allegedly wanted to prevent this from happening by disposing of people holding these views. According to the police, the group had a list of targets ready and was stocked on food and ammunition for legally held weapons. No one has been taken into police custody so far.

Middle East and South Asia

The Islamist militant group Taliban attacked a police station in the Afghan town of Lashkargah in the Helmand province on Wednesday 23 August. A suicide attacker killed at least seven people - four soldiers and three civilians. A military convoy was passing through the checkpoint at the police station, dozens of people were injured in the attack including children from a nearby mosque where a lesson in Islamic teachings was taking place. A spokesman for the Taliban has recently threatened violence if the US sends more troops into Afghanistan. This plan was announced by US president Donald Trump on Monday 21 August, but the number of soldiers and the time of their deployment is yet to be specified. The Pentagon recommends sending around 4,000 soldiers to strengthen the current mission which is training Afghan security forces.

A similar attack by the Taliban also happened on Sunday 27 August in the Nawa district of the Helmand province, when a suicide attacker drove a car loaded with explosives into a convoy of the Afghan National Army near a local market killing at least 13 people including both soldiers and civilians. Dozens of people have been injured. The Helmand province is about 80 % under the Taliban's control and thus is one of the Islamist group's biggest holdings.

About author: Redakce ESJ

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