Terrorism and extremism weekly summary 27 November - 3 December

Europe

Anti-terrorism units of the Greek police conducted three coordinated raids in Athens on Tuesday 28 November and detained nine Turkish Kurds. Shortly after the raids, the police arrested another three people, including a woman. All the detainees are likely members of the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP-C), a Turkish left-wing organisation. The police also seized large amounts of evidence on laptops and data storage devices during the raids. Specific details about reasons the raids were conducted have not been made public so far.

On Friday 1 December, a suspicious package was found at the Christmas market in Potsdam, Germany. It was revealed to contain nails, wires, batteries and unknown pyrotechnic material, later clarified by the police to be a type of fireworks. The package was likely not able to cause a great harm. In connection with this incident, the police closed down the entire square and ordered an evacuation of nearby buildings. There are currently high levels of security measures in Germany and Austria, particularly due to the approaching holidays, as Christmas markets could be targetted by attackers as was the case in Berlin last year.

On Sunday 3 December, a 35-year-old man suspected of preparing a terrorist attack during St. Nicholas celebrations in the Saint-Nicolas-de-Port basilica was arrested in Laneuveville-devant-Nancy, France. According to the investigators, the man has been showing increasing radical and hateful views recently, which is why his arrest took place shortly after threats against the planned celebrations appeared on social media. 

A woman arrested last week in Winterthur, Switzerland, in connection to the conviction of a local Imam from 24 November will be tried in the following days for her alleged membership in an Islamic State (IS) cell. The woman converted to Islam in 2009 and afterwards she and her two children travelled through Turkey to Egypt and Syria where she was supposedly indoctrinated by local militants. She is charged with encouraging violence and terrorist attacks. According to Swiss security forces, the number of monitored risk persons in Switzerland increased from 10 to 100 since this May.

A Finnish court issued a decision on Thursday 30 November, by which it prohibits the activity of the far-right Nordic Resistance Movement (PVL) due to its encouragement of violence and expressions undermining Finnish state integrity. A member of the PVL was sentenced to two years of imprisonment last December for causing bodily injury resulting in death after he kicked an opponent to the chest during a demonstration in Helsinki. The man hit his head in the subsequent fall and later died of brain haemorrhage. 

Two men aged 36 and 37 were arrested in Belfast, Northern Ireland, at the beginning of the week after police had been called into their apartment to investigate reports of shooting. The investigators stated that the men were reportedly testing a firearm with the intent to commit a terrorist act. Aside from the firearm, the police found extensive amounts of ammunition.

The Dutch police detained four Syrian refugees in Bergen op Zoom, Arnhem, Diemen and Wageningen on Tuesday 28 November, including two men aged 23 and 26 suspected of participation in terrorist activities. Both of them went to fight for the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Islamist group (formerly Al-Nusra Front) between 2012 and 2015. All of the detainees were also charged with smuggling a migrant into the country without the necessary documents and falsification of such documents. 

About author: Matěj Novák

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