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Police in Europe recently arrested alleged terrorists for supposedly planning attacks in connection with the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
In the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Germany recently, police nabbed folks who had been previously convicted on terror charges, reported the Times of Israel. One suspect told a friend in Syria that he might attack a pro-Israel demonstration. Another said the violence in Gaza was inspiring him to die as a martyr in an explosion.
The arrests were a sign of the times. For example, Europol’s executive director Catherine De Bolle recently told ABC News that Islamic terrorism was among the biggest threats to Western Europe. She noted that young Muslims alienated and shut out of Europe’s secular and often closed societies were especially vulnerable to radicalization.
In Arras in northern France, for instance, French officials recently mobilized as many as 7,000 troops after a former student fatally stabbed their teacher and injured three others, the Associated Press wrote. The student was suspected of Islamic radicalization. A few days before the attack, French authorities closed six airports after they received terror threats, noted France 24. The Palace of Versailles, the Louvre and other landmarks and airports have also been closed repeatedly recently due to similar fears, annoying tourists, added the Local.
At around the same time, two masked men threw firebombs at a synagogue in Berlin, Politico reported. Nobody was hurt. The building was not seriously damaged. But the would-be arsonists escaped.
Last month, a gunman, a Tunisian immigrant slated for deportation from Belgium since 2020, killed two Swedish citizens who were in Brussels to watch a soccer match.
The killer posted a video where, speaking in Arabic, he said he was on a jihad to kill Swedes, the BBC reported. Belgian police later found and shot the man. The shootings could have been reprisals for a series of Quran burnings that occurred in Sweden earlier this year, explained Al Jazeera. More Swedes are becoming increasingly Islamophobic, according to the Berkeley Political Review as more Muslim immigrants have entered the country.
In the wake of the attacks, European leaders vowed to tighten border security, Reuters wrote. Millions of migrants fleeing war or seeking economic opportunities have been attempting to venture to Europe since 2011 when the Syrian Civil War sent the first large groups to the West. More than 36,000 migrants entered Southern Europe in the first three months of 2023, CNN reported.
The European Commission is even pushing a deal, similar to one with Tunisia, to provide aid to Egypt in return for halting migration flows to Europe, Politico reported.
The problem, some say, is that tightening up borders and increasing deportations will only do so much: Many of Europe’s terrorists are home-grown.