Saturday, December 7, 2019

Islamic State Alive and Well in Europe

Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the November 29 jihadi attack at London Bridge, where a Pakistani Islamist stabbed two people to death and injured three others. The suspect, 28-year-old Usman Khan, a convicted terrorist, was subsequently shot dead by police.
Khan, from Stoke-on-Trent, was convicted in February 2012 of plotting — on behalf of al-Qaeda — jihadi attacks against the London Stock Exchange and pubs in Stoke, in addition to setting up a jihadi training camp in Pakistan. He was sentenced to an "indeterminate sentence," meaning that he could have been kept in prison beyond his original minimum term of eight years due to the danger he posed to national security.
In April 2013, however, the Court of Appeal revised that sentence with a fixed term of eight years. Khan, a student of the Islamist extremist Anjem Choudary, who co-founded the now banned Al-Muhajiroun group, was released from prison in December 2018, before the end of his sentence, after agreeing to wear an electronic tag.
Khan's early release and subsequent attack prompted a row between the Conservatives and Labour over the practice of reducing prison terms for violent offenders. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that people convicted of terrorism offenses should not be allowed out of prison early:
"I think that the practice of automatic, early release where you cut a sentence in half and let really serious, violent offenders out early simply isn't working, and you've some very good evidence of how that isn't working, I am afraid, with this case."
Meanwhile, German authorities have arrested three suspected members of the Islamic State who were allegedly planning an attack with explosives and firearms in the Frankfurt Rhine-Main area. Prosecutors said that the men had wanted to kill as many "infidels" as possible.
This plot — and others like it that have been foiled in recent months — comes as the Turkish government has started repatriating European jihadis who fought with Islamist groups in Syria and Iraq.
Observers warn that while the Islamic State may have been "defeated" in the Middle East, it remains a potent danger to Europe.
On November 12, more than 150 German police officers raided three apartments in Offenbach and arrested a 24-year-old Macedonian-German and two Turkish citizens aged 21 and 22. Frankfurt Prosecutor Nadja Niesen said that the 24-year-old was the main suspect:
"The men are accused of plotting to commit a religiously-motivated crime in the Rhine-Main area by means of explosives or firearms to kill as many so-called infidels as possible.
"We have evidence that the 24-year-old has already procured chemicals to make explosives and that he continued to try over the internet to obtain firearms. We have secured various materials and equipment for making explosives."
A week later, on November 19, German police arrested a 26-year-old Syrian jihadi at his apartment in the Schöneberg district of Berlin. The man, who had been in Germany since 2014, was employed at a Berlin primary school as a cleaner. He had been under surveillance for at least three months after German authorities received a tipoff from a "friendly foreign intelligence service." Police said that the man had acquired chemicals to produce explosives to "kill as many people as possible."
Read the rest of the story HERE.

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