Terrorism and extremism weekly summary 25-31 December

Europe

The Israeli embassy in Athens, Greece, became a target of vandalism by members of the local anarchist group Rouvikonas on Monday 25 December. In the early morning, anarchists on motorcycles spilt red paint on the embassy's walls and recorded the incident on video. The vandals chose Christmas for their attack because the embassy's security is lowered during this time. Afterwards, the group stated on the internet that their motive was expressing solidarity with Palestinians in their efforts to gain independence and denouncing their oppression by Israel

Russia and post-Soviet space

On Wednesday 27 December, Saint Petersburg, Russia, was shaken by an explosion of a device planted in a local department store, which injured 14 people. Two days later, the so-called Islamic State (IS) took responsibility for the attack but has not shown any credible evidence to back this claim. On Saturday 30 December, the Russian intelligence service FSB detained the presumed attacker, more information gathered from his interrogation has not been made public so far. Alongside the incident from 14 December, when FSB thwarted a planned terrorist attack on the Kazan Cathedral, this is yet another example of increased Islamist activity in Saint Petersburg. 

Middle East and South Asia

At least 50 people were killed and 84 injured during suicide bombing attacks in front of the Tebyan social and cultural centre in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Thursday 28 December. According to eyewitnesses, there were at least two suicide attackers, some sources mention a third. The attackers detonated their explosives as crowds of social activists gathered in front of the centre for a regular meeting. Moreover, the AVA media agency, which falls under a parent company financed by Iran, has its headquarters in the building. The IS claimed responsibility for the attack shortly after.

Anti-terrorism units of the Turkish police conducted a number of parallel raids against people suspected of having ties to the IS or being its members in some 25 places in Istanbul and Ankara on Friday 29 December. According to local media, 75 suspects were arrested, some of them were supposedly planning to attack the coming New Year's celebrations. Turkey is putting thorough security measures in place for the celebrations, as 40.000 members of the security forces are preparing to be deployed in Istanbul and concrete roadblocks are being installed onto roads leading into the city centre.

An attacker carrying an automatic weapon killed 11 people and injured five more in front of a Coptic Christian church in Helwan, southern Cairo, Egypt, on Friday 29 December. According to witnesses, the attacker killed two people in front of a Coptic store and then tried to enter the church. According to some sources, the attacker, who was connected to the IS, was subsequently killed by the police, according to others he was shot and arrested. Coptic Christians and Sufis, who practice a mystic form of Islam, are frequently targetted by IS' violent attacks in Egypt.

About author: Redakce ESJ

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