January 25, 2016
Source: The Mirror
Europol says a growing number of foreign fighters and the recent tragedies in Paris has highlighted a shift towards international attacks.
Islamic State militants could be planning ‘large scale’ attacks in the UK and rest of Europe, international authorities have warned.
Europol , the European Union’s law enforcement agency, claims the continent is facing the most significant terrorist threat in over 10 years.
A growing number of foreign fighters and the recent tragedies in Paris have indicated a shift towards more ‘special forces style attacks’ happening in the international environment, it said in a statement today.
Europol claims that because of this there is a great need within the EU to “strengthen our response to terror , to suspected terrorist networks and foreign fighters, and have an improved strategic understanding of threats.”
After the Paris attacks the authority assigned up to 60 officers to support the French and Belgian investigations in Taskforce Fraternité.
So far 2.7 terabytes of information has been collected from these two countries, resulting in 800 intelligence leads and more than 1,600 leads on suspicious financial transactions.
Dimitris Avramopoulos, European commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship, said: “EU institutions responded swiftly and strongly to the terrorist attacks of last year and moved to augment the European Union’s capacity to deal with terrorist threat.”
The authority established the European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC), a major strategic opportunity for the EU to make collective efforts to fight terrorism more effective, this month.
It will be an enhanced central information hub by which the member states can increase information sharing and operational coordination.
The ECTC will be led by Mr Manuel Navarrete Paniagua, a high ranking officer of the Spanish Guardia Civil with extensive practical counter terrorism experience.
He was already the head of the counter terrorism unit at Europol.
Currently, 39 staff members and 5 seconded national experts work in the ECTC.
Working alongside other operational centres at Europol, such as the European Cyber Crime Centre (EC3), the ECTC will be a constituent part of Europol, under the general command of its Director, and will serve to augment the organisation’s capabilities as the EU’s law enforcement agency.
Ard van der Steur, minister of security and justice of the Netherlands, currently holding the presidency of the Council of the EU, said: “The ECTC will improve the exchange of information between law enforcement agencies.
“This is the kind of co-operation Europe needs in the fight against organised crime and terrorism.”
The authority says its aim is to raise trust and awareness among the different counter terrorism authorities in the EU and maximise existing capabilities.
Europol Director Rob Wainwright
By serving as a centre of expertise, ECTC will focus on tackling foreign fighters, sharing intelligence and expertise on terrorism financing, online terrorist propaganda and extremism, illegal arms trafficking and international cooperation to increase effectiveness and prevention.
Europol says it will provide the member states, and its key partners like Interpol and Eurojust, with new possibilities to ensure the most effective management of counter terrorism intelligence.
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