Terrorist Threat in Europe: France and Germany Call for EU Joint Action

Written by | Friday, November 6th, 2020

EU leaders have urged other nations to stop inciting hatred after a Tunisian migrant murdered three people in France on Thursday (29 October). “We condemn in the strongest possible terms these attacks, which represent attacks on our shared values,” they said in a statement following a video-summit the same day. Following the attacks in Paris and Nice, Islamist terrorism has struck again in Europe — this time in Vienna. The 20-year-old assailant shot dead on Monday evening (2 November) had made several attempts to leave the country and join the so-called Islamic State (IS) but the authorities still did not see him as a potential terrorist.
Germany has also been the scene of numerous attacks, and while the security forces keep tabs on hundreds of potential attackers, similar miscalculations have happened in Germany too. As of 1 September, German security forces counted 627 potential terrorists. One of them was the 20-year-old Syrian Abdullah al-H., who attacked a homosexual couple with a kitchen knife on 4 October in Dresden, seriously wounding one and killing the other, although his movements were monitored by police. German authorities regard the threat level as “steadily high.” The 2019 report by Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, BfV, refers to several foiled plans for attacks that testify to the potential for terrorism in Germany. A major threat comes from “individual assailants inspired by terrorist organizations,” who are especially difficult to pick out in advance, says the domestic intelligence service.
Although Europe’s leaders responded to the recent terror attacks in France and Austria with expressions of solidarity, France and Germany have urged the EU member states, which, however, distrust each other, to take a stronger joint action in the fight against terrorism, particularly when it comes to a more open exchange of intelligence information. The interior ministers Horst Seehofer and Gérald Darmanin announced in a statement that the German EU presidency would put the topic on the agenda of an EU interior ministers’ meeting set for 13 November. Until then, they would examine “how the exchange of information on persons posing a terrorist or violent extremist threat can be improved”. The problem has so far been in that trust between national intelligence services is not always high. After attacks in the early 2000s, in London and Madrid, EU countries vowed to be more generous with their information but did not set up a framework for this.

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