Terrorism and extremism weekly summary 19 - 25 June

Europe

On Monday 19 June, Italian security forces arrested a 29-year-old Iraqi asylum seeker because of his supposed ties to the so-called Islamic State (IS). The man was to deliver information to the organisation and was known for his radical and hateful views. He was also urging other asylum seekers to commit violent terrorist attacks in the town of Crotone in southern Italy. Heated debates about civil rights and the direction of migration policy are currently taking over Italy’s political sphere, only getting more intense with next year’s approaching elections.

German elite police force GSG-9, supported by other police units, conducted extensive raids on apartments in Thuringia and Lower Saxony, aimed at members of neo-nationalist movements allegedly tied to the radical right-wing organisation European Action. One man, who resisted arrest and injured two policemen, was arrested during the raids. Melee weapons, as well as firearms, propaganda materials and drugs, were found in the apartments. Beside the one arrest, 13 other people were charged, among other things with organising armed activities with neo-Nazi subtext in local forests.

According to a report from Wednesday 21 June, three Moroccan jihadists, Rachid El Omari, Mohammed Chaou and Mustafa El Omari, were arrested in Madrid, Spain. Rachid El Omari was labelled by counterterrorism units to be a very dangerous radicalised Islamist likely connected to the IS. Spanish Interior Ministry likened him to the perpetrators of terrorist attacks in London and Paris. The other two men lived in the same apartment as El Omari and their possible radicalisation or ties to the IS are being investigated. Spanish security forces are currently on high alert and their activities have intensified after the recent attacks in the UK, as well as due to the planned LGBT World Pride 2017 festival in Madrid, which is supposed to be attended by two million people in one week.

Belgian authorities have announced the arrests of four people suspected of complicity in the attempted terror attack at Brussels’ Central Train Station on Tuesday 21 June, where a 36-year-old Moroccan national detonated an explosive. However, the bomb was not very strong and no bystanders or members of the police were injured. The original information that the man wore a suicide bomb vest was rebutted by the investigators. The man was subsequently shot by patrolling soldiers and the adjacent Grand Place was evacuated after the incident.

Russia and post-Soviet space

On Sunday 25 June, Russian security forces shot two Islamist militants in the town of Chasavjurt in Dagestan, Northern Caucasus. According to the spokesperson of Russian Interior Ministry, the men in question were stopped by a police patrol, which they started firing at. In the following shootout, where the patrol was backed by other police units, the attackers were killed. Dagestan is a region with high concentration of Islamist groups, clashes with security forces are a daily occurrence and many of the militants are allegedly connected to the IS.

Middle East and South Asia

On Thursday 22 June, a car loaded with explosives detonated in the Afghan city of Lashkargah, the capital of Helmand Province, and killed at least 34 people, with around 60 more being injured. The incident happened in front of the New Kabul Bank building, and no one has claimed responsibility so far. Ten members of the Afghan National Police (ANP) were killed during two Taliban attacks on Saturday 24 June. The first attack was aimed at the Salma Dam, while the second took place at a checkpoint in Herat Province. The Salma Dam is a common target for Taliban militants due to its strategic importance, but it is also very closely guarded. The attackers were subsequently shot.

At the market in al-Dana, Idlib, Syria, a suicide attacker killed at least ten people and injured 30 more on Saturday 24 June, using a car loaded with explosives. The attack happened after another explosion previously killed two people on Friday. Several rebel groups are active in the city and occasionally fight each other, but they jointly blame the IS for the attack. According to the UN, Idlib is one of the areas most affected by the conflict in Syria, with the province also being a stronghold for anti-Assad rebels.

On Friday 24 June, Pakistan was shaken by a series of four attacks, which claimed at least 85 victims altogether, with another almost 100 people injured. The incidents took place in three areas – a suicide bomber detonated in front of the police headquarters in Quetta, two explosions hit the market in the Shia town of Parachinar and the last attack happened in the harbour town of Karachi, where four attackers armed with automatic firearms killed four policemen during an attack on a local police station.

About author: Redakce ESJ

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