In its annual report on terrorism, Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, has revealed that radical Islamist terrorism for the third consecutive year remained the top security threat across the bloc in 2022, as the vast majority of individuals arrested for terrorism-related offenses were motivated by a jihadist ideology.
Europol’s Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2023 (TE-SAT), a yearly “situational overview presenting figures and developments within the terrorism landscape in the EU,” was presented in the Hague, Netherlands, on Tuesday, June 14th, and revealed that of the 380 people arrested across all 27 member states last year on suspicion of terror-related offenses, 266 people, or 70% of those arrested, were arrested for jihadist offenses.
The report states that, among the 266 people arrested for jihadist-related terror offenses, the most common charges were membership in terrorist organizations, production or dissemination of propaganda, planning and preparing an attack, and terrorist financing. The number of arrests in this category has risen for the past three consecutive years, with 254 arrests recorded in 2020, 260 in 2021, and 266 in 2022.
The vast majority of arrests for jihadist-related terror offenses took place in multicultural Western Europe, with France recording 93; Spain, 46; Germany, 30; and Belgium, 22.
Although arrests for jihadist-related offenses were by far the most common, the report indicates that left-wing extremists and anarchists managed to successfully carry out more terror attacks than any other cohort (i.e., right-wing extremists, separatists, jihadists, ethno-nationalists, etc.).
For example, of the 16 terrorist attacks successfully carried out across the EU last year, 13 were attributed to left-wing and anarchist terrorism, while two and one were attributed to jihadist and right-wing terrorism, respectively. Most successful left-wing and anarchist terror attacks took place in Italy (eight), while Greece recorded three, and Belgium and Spain each registered one. Europol recorded 19 arrests related to left-wing terrorism.
The report notes “increasing levels of left-wing and anarchist extremist violence against police personnel, spontaneous but also premeditated, were observed in 2022.” The bulk of left-wing violence was directed against law enforcement officers, off-duty and during service, and attacks on private vehicles and homes.
Regarding right-wing terrorism, 45 arrests were made across 9 member states—Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovakia, and Spain. That figure is down from 64 in 2021. Four right-wing terror attacks were reported across the EU last year, with all but one having been foiled by authorities.