Mishra’s Mishmash: The threat of Islamist terrorism in Europe
Many European cities have recently been hit by terrorist attacks, but what happened at a concert at Britain’s Manchester Arena in May has shocked many, again raising fears that a pan-European network of jihadists can hit any European city it chooses at any time.
The events of the past couple of years have shown us that many European cities are on their radar: Copenhagen, London, Paris, Nice, Brussels, Berlin, Stockholm and now Manchester.
Callous to target kids
The callous attack on defenceless children, especially young girls enjoying a concert, has raised the question whether terrorists are deliberately targeting children to create headlines.
As the details emerged of the terrifying moments in the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Manchester – especially those involving a young girl of just eight years old, who was heard asking for her mum in the dying moments of her life – it is becoming clear that what happened in Manchester will not only affect election results in the United Kingdom, but all over Europe.
The months of June, July and August see many people go to music festivals in Denmark, of which Roskilde, the most prestigious in Scandinavia, attracts close to a hundred thousand visitors.
Increasingly the organisers of these festivals have had to raise their security standards and are wary of long queues and the fear that some potential music enthusiasts will not want to participate at events where there are large gatherings of people, making them vulnerable targets for terrorists.
And it’s not just concerts. Innocent people are being targeted at market places and popular public events. There is no doubt that Europe is changing greatly as a result of the persistent threat it faces from Islamist terrorism.
Lone wolf threat
Thousands of radicalised jihadists are returning from war-torn areas such as Syria, Iraq and Libya with enhanced skills that can be put to devastating effect.
While the security services enjoy considerable success combating organised cells plotting to cause terror, they find it harder to stop an individual – particularly one who can return from overseas, ‘disappear’ off the radar, manufacture a bomb and carry out an attack. The phenomenon is often referred to as that of a ‘lone wolf’.
In the last decade, and especially in the last five years, thousands of jihadists holding European passports have crossed the porous borders of countries such as Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Even if they do not return home, they can inspire Manchester-style attacks by asking their sympathisers in European cities to act as lone wolves.
At the moment, many people in Europe are feeling shock and revulsion, but the pressure is growing to stop these terrorist attacks that are targeting civilians and now deliberately going after young girls.
The Danish government recently passed a law tightening the conditions for receiving welfare benefits. It has been disclosed that many of the so-called Syrian fighters – those returning from Syria after fighting on the side of Islamic State – have received welfare benefits.
Those benefits will be cut substantially from now onwards, removing the economic incentive to fight a jihad and simultaneously receive funds from the state.
As a regular contributor to the Times of India, the country’s largest newspaper, Mishra is often sought-after by Danish media and academia to provide expertise on Asian-related matters, human rights issues and democratisation. He has spent half his life in India and the other half in Denmark and Sweden.