Terrorism in the EU in 2022 – Europol publishes facts and figures

Image of the Europol logo.

Image of the Europol logo. Credit: Tobias Arhelger / Shutterstock.com

Europol published its European Union Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2023 (TE-SAT) on Wednesday, June 14.

Their report provided the most comprehensive and up-to-date intelligence picture of terrorism in the European Union. It was based on data provided to Europol by EU Member States on terrorist attacks and terrorism-related arrests in the European Union.

Commenting on the TE-SAT, Europol’s Executive Director Catherine De Bolle said: “Fighting terrorism remains a priority for Europol and for the EU”.

She continued: “We will continue to work closely with all our partners in order to mitigate terrorist threats to the community by denying terrorists the means and limiting their space to plan, to finance and carry out attacks, by countering radicalisation and by enhancing information exchange and police cooperation”.

“With the TE-SAT 2023, I am pleased to reemphasise our commitment to these efforts as we continue towards our joint goal of Making Europe Safer”, she concluded.

Among its key findings was that terrorism continued to pose a serious threat. In 2022, 28 completed, failed or foiled attacks were recorded in the EU. Sixteen attacks were completed, and four people tragically lost their lives, two resulting from jihadist attacks and two from a right-wing terrorist attack.

The report said that EU Member States continued to view jihadist terrorism as the most prominent threat in the EU. Out of the 380 individuals arrested by EU Member States in 2022 for terrorism-related offences, 266 were carried out for jihadist offences.

Lone actors reportedly remained a key threat. Most of the attacks carried out in 2022 were done so by suspects acting alone. This can be observed across the spectrum from jihadist to right- and left-wing extremism.

The internet and technology remained pivotal enablers of propaganda, as well as radicalisation and recruitment of vulnerable individuals into terrorism and violent extremism it pointed out.

In addition to social media platforms, messaging applications, online forums and video gaming platforms, decentralised platforms appear to have gained popularity in terrorist and violent extremist circles.

Other advanced technologies which have become increasingly visible included the manufacture and use of 3D-printed weapons.

These were particularly in the right-wing scene, along with the use by terrorist elements of virtual assets, especially cryptocurrencies, to finance their terrorist activities.

Although rooted in different ideologies and backgrounds, terrorists and violent extremists are increasingly sharing common elements, including similar narratives on the same topics, the selection of similar targets for attacks and the borrowing of tactical methods.

Anti-establishment, conspiracy theories, and the opposition to technological advances seem to be increasingly filling the space between ideologies, providing motivations for violent actions said the report.

The most visible reactions to the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine emerged in the first months of the war, largely in the far-right scene, materialising in online posts and a limited number of right-wing extremist affiliates traveling to join the battlefield.

Although the interest in the war in this milieu appears to have gradually dimmed throughout the remainder of 2022, disinformation related to the conflict is likely to continue to fuel terrorist and extremist narratives.

This report was based on qualitative and quantitative data provided by Member States on terrorist attacks, arrests and court decisions issued for terrorist offences.

Europol’s partners also provided valuable qualitative information and assessments that enrich the findings of the report, in order to reflect on developments beyond the EU that affect the security of the EU and its citizens.

Information on convictions and acquittals for terrorist offences, as well as on amendments to national legislation on terrorism provided by Eurojust and based on data shared by Member States, complemented the report.

The quantitative analysis presented in the TE-SAT reflected Member States’ definitions of terrorist offences according to national legislation.

A full version of the TE-SAT 2023 report can be downloaded here.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com