Interview: Surge in Europe's terror attacks connected to IS defeats in Mideast: Israeli expert

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-22 00:24:25|Editor: yan
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JERUSALEM, June 21 (Xinhua) -- The recent surge in terror attacks in Europe has a definite connection with the defeats suffered by the terror group Islamic State (IS) in the Mideast, a senior Israeli expert told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.

Dozens of people have been killed since March in a spate of terror attacks that has spread through the United Kingdom, France and Belgium, in which the terror suspects used vehicles, knives and explosives to mow down pedestrians, attack police and blow up innocent people.

Many people suspect that the surge in terror attacks in Europe could be caused by the spillover effect of IS defeats in the Mideast.

Indeed, IS forces are now being surrounded and cornered in Mosul and Raqqa, its de factor capitals in Iraq and Syria, after suffering repeated defeats in fighting.

"There is definitely a connection," said Shlomo Brom, head of the Program on Israeli-Palestinian Relations at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.

Brom explained that there are two major reasons for the link between the rise of terror attacks in Europe and the continued loss of territories by IS in the Mideast.

Firstly, there is a reversal in the inflow of volunteer fighters to the Mideast to join IS for the Jihad, or holy war, that started during the peak of IS years ago.

Since it has become clearer that it's only a question of time for IS to be destroyed as an organizational force, more and more of those volunteers are now returning to Europe and other Western countries.

"This creates a situation that there are more IS activists in Europe and some of them come with malicious ideas," said Brom, an expert on Arab Spring and Mideast affairs.

Secondly, as IS loses its territorial hold, it has a greater interest to carry out attacks in the world, not only in Europe, "to create an image of strength."

IS claimed responsibility for the May 22 bombing of a concert in Manchester, UK, which killed 22 people and wounded 59 others. The horrific attack shocked the whole nation as well the world.

"Sometimes it's less important what is actually happening on the ground and more important the image is created," Brom said. "Through attacks, IS creates an image that it is still alive, strong and active, and there is no way to destroy it."

A large part of recent terror attacks are independent attacks, or "inspiration attacks" - attacks that are inspired by the organization but were not planned by it, he noted.

Brom believes that the main motivation of Muslim extremists that launched attacks in Europe recently is revenge.

"What brings them to support IS or be involved? They feel that Western states - that anyway they feel resentment towards them because of their difficulty to assimilate in Europe - they are killing their people, they are destroying their hopes. Then there is a wish to avenge, to respond," Brom said.


Despite heightened alert and increased security measures taken in Europe, the wave of attacks is expected to continue, Brom predicted.

"I can say with certainty that this will continue. Will it increase? I do not know. It depends on many things that I do not know, starting from the amount of people who plan attacks and the counter measures that countries are taking," he said.

No matter what preventive measures are taken, terror attacks are impossible to be prevented as long as the reasons that lead to such radical acts still exist, the Israeli expert said.

The reasons have to do with both Europe and the Mideast, Brom said.

For European countries, they have difficulty in absorbing the Muslim minorities and the result is the creation of enclaves of people that feel estranged from the society, he noted.

Brom said the United States is doing better than Europe in absorbing Muslims as it is largely an immigrant country. That explains why the U.S. has just as many Muslims as Europe but there are far fewer terror attacks.

In the Mideast, as long as there are struggles and conflicts within the region, there is a feeling that there is a war of Christians and Jews against Muslims, and an internal war between Shia and Sunni Muslims, Brom said.

"This is a very strong factor in recruiting Sunni Muslims to Jihadist organizations," he added.