Oct. 8, 2018
- Europe Hardens Its Defenses Against Jihadists – Thomas Hegghammer
Europe is fighting the threat of jihadist terrorism with measures that would have been unthinkable six or seven years ago. Between 2015 and 2017, 350 people were killed by jihadists across Europe and terrorism rose to the top of polls of public concerns. In response, European countries poured money into counterterrorism and improved intelligence sharing. They also initiated radical new measures that had previously been considered politically off-limits.
Preventing citizens from going off to places like Syria to fight was once considered legally difficult. Many European law-enforcement agencies now prosecute anyone merely planning to go abroad to join a jihadist group. Firebrand clerics also found themselves treated more severely.
Censorship of extremist internet material, once seen as authoritarian, is now common and has significantly reduced the availability of jihadist propaganda. A new EU law imposes fines on internet companies that fail to remove extremist material within 60 minutes. Austria deported 60 imams this year. Italy has deported 313 extremists since 2015. Britain stripped more than 100 suspected Islamist militants of their citizenship in 2017.
Domestic attacks and casualties are substantially down in 2018 – not because plotting has decreased, but because authorities are foiling more attempts. The writer is a senior research fellow at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI). (Wall Street Journal)