At least 10 jihadist attacks prevented in Europe in 2023, Dutch agency says

By Thomson Reuters Apr 23, 2024 | 7:09 AM

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Western intelligence prevented at least 10 jihadist attacks across Europe last year and the current war between Israel and the militant Palestinian group Hamas has increased the threat of further attacks, Dutch intelligence agency AIVD said on Tuesday.

The foiled attacks included a plan to stab people at random and preparations for an assault on specific buildings and events, the AIVD said in its annual report, without elaborating.

“There were two mobilising issues: the destruction of Korans in the Netherlands and other European countries and the conflict between Israel and Hamas,” the Dutch agency said.

Sweden raised its terror alert in August to the second-highest level, after Koran burnings and other acts in the country targeting the holy book of Islam outraged Muslims and triggered threats from jihadists.

In October, two Swedish football fans were shot dead in Brussels, allegedly by a man who identified himself as a member of the Islamic State jihadist group.

Also in October, a 20-year-old man fatally stabbed a teacher and gravely wounded two other people in an attack at a school in the northern French city of Arras, in what President Emmanuel Macron condemned as “barbaric Islamic terrorism”.

Israel and Hamas have been at war in Gaza since gunmen from the Palestinian militant group that runs the enclave attacked southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and capturing 253 hostages, by Israeli tallies.

Israel responded with a military campaign in which more than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to medical officials in the enclave, with thousands more feared buried under the rubble.

The AIVD did not say how many of the foiled jihadist attacks had occurred since Oct. 7.

The Dutch anti-terrorism agency in December raised its threat level for the first time since 2019 to 4, or “substantial”, on its five-step scale, citing the war in Gaza.

(Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Gareth Jones)