Terrorism and extremism weekly summary 31 July - 6 August

Europe

On Wednesday 2 August, a 49-year-old man suspected of preparing a violent terrorist attack was arrested by a counterterrorism unit of the London Metropolitan Police at the Southend airport, 57 km east of London. In connection with his arrest, the police are now examining his place of residence at an unspecified address in Essex. Britain is on high alert after the attacks in London in June and Manchester in May, British security forces conduct raids almost every day to lower the risk of another potential attack.

In the evening of Saturday 5 August, a 19-year-old man armed with a knife tried to get past security at the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The man was quickly surrounded by security forces and surrendered. The Eiffel Tower and its surroundings were evacuated for a short time during the incident. The man, a French citizen born in Mauretania, was recently released from a psychiatric hospital and allegedly celebrated Islamic terrorism. He was also supposedly in contact with members of the so-called Islamic State, who were encouraging him to commit a violent attack with Islamist subtext.

Violent and intimidating actions of the anarchist group Arran are intensifying in Spain, during last week, four masked members of the group attacked a tourist bus, slashed its tires and sprayed threatening messages on its windows. The group's representatives threatened to commit more attacks, motivated by their disagreement with Spain's tourism policy. The group operates in Mallorca, where its members vandalise tourist facilities in a similar fashion. Arran was established in 2012 and fights for Catalonia's independence, their aims also include putting end to capitalism and fighting against globalization.

According to a report from Thursday 3 August, Interpol received a valuable document containing a list of 173 Islamist radicals and sympathisers who might be potential suicide attackers. The names include six Europeans, one of them a German national. German authorities already started the proper investigation. The list was obtained by Iraqi security forces during the liberation of Mosul and afterwards given to American intelligence services who passed it on to Interpol. According to French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb, some 271 jihadists returning from the conflicts in Syria and Iraq are present in France alone.

Middle East

On Tuesday 1 August, two unknown attackers carried out a suicide bombing attack on the local Shia mosque in the town of Herat in Afghanistan. At least 29 people were killed and 60 more were injured. One of the men was preparing to fire his assault rifle, but it jammed and the man detonated his bomb. Some 300 people were in the mosque during the attack. The so-called Islamic State is the main suspect behind the attack, as it threatened the Shia minority in the past. A spokesperson for the Taliban has already denied the group's connection to the attack.

A Turkish court sentenced two Czechs to six years and three months in prison for their alleged support and membership in the Kurdish militant organisation YPG operating in Syria. Turkey links YPG to the radical Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is considered a terrorist organisation. Czech diplomacy, headed by Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek, is trying to conduct a proper review of the case by an appellate court. The Czechs' defence is that they are humanitarian activists, but, according to Turkey, they regularly visited YPG's training camps and met with its members.

About author: Matěj Novák

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