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The number of Islamist terrorist attacks in Europe has decreased, but the threat remains high

The number of Islamist terrorist attacks in Europe has decreased, but the threat remains high

International terrorist organisations the Islamic State and Al Qaeda and their branches operate in the Middle East and Africa, disseminate anti-Western propaganda online but have no capabilities to organise terrorist attacks in Europe. Planners and perpetrators of attacks in Europe are individuals who support Islamist ideology but are with no direct associations with terrorist organisations. Most of them are young individuals radicalised online. They usually have no access to firearms or explosives and choose readily available means for their attacks such as vehicles and household items, like knives or axes.

The number of Islamist terrorist attacks in Europe has been falling: in 2022, three terrorist attacks were carried out in France, Norway, and Belgium; several were thwarted. Police officers and people in mass gatherings remain the main terrorist targets. One terrorist attack was perpetrated in a prison. It was established that some perpetrators suffered from mental illnesses.

In the near term, the threat of Islamist ideology-inspired attacks in Europe will remain high. Anti-Christian, anti-Jewish, and anti-LGBT propaganda disseminated via social media by terrorist groups or their supporters fuels radicalised individuals’ determination to carry out terrorist attacks. The propaganda messages suggest targeting synagogues, churches, mass events as well as police officers and the military. Revenge for alleged insults to Islam and its symbols is a driving motive behind attacks carried out by Islamist extremists.

In Lithuania, the threat of Islamist terrorism is low. Even though some individuals possibly affected by Islamist ideology are identified every year, the level of their radicalisation remains low. Apart from a few individual cases, no organised flow of individuals with radical views from third countries to Lithuania or to the EU via Lithuania has been identified. In the near term, it is unlikely that Lithuania will become a target for Islamist terrorists; however, the cases of terrorism funding, spread of propaganda, or even carrying out an attack are possible in the country.

Per 2022 m. Oslo centre įvykdytą ginkluotą užpuolimą žuvo du žmonės, 21 buvo sužeistas AFP / Scanpix nuotrauka

Two people died and 21 were injured during an armed attack in the centre of Oslo in June 2022 AFP / Scanpix
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