EUROPOL Changes in modus operandi of Islamic State terrorist attacks
Key findings below the fold
• The Paris attacks, and subsequent investigation, appear to indicate a shift towards a broader strategy of IS going global, of them specifically attacking France, but also the possibly of attacks against other Member States of the EU in the near future.
• Intelligence suggests that IS has developed an external action command trained for special forces style attacks in the international environment;
• IS terrorist cells currently operating in the EU are largely domestic and/or locally based;
• For foreign fighters the religious component in recruitment and radicalisation is being replaced by more social elements such as peer pressure and role modelling. Additionally the romantic prospect of being part of an important and exciting development, apart from more private considerations, may play a role. Suicide bombers see themselves more as heroes than as religious martyrs;
• A significant portion of foreign fighters have been diagnosed with mental problems prior to joining IS. Also, a large proportion of recruits have criminal records varying from petty crimes to more serious offences;
• An increasing phenomenon is that of Islamist “brotherhood gatherings”, analogous to other faction camps such as ‘Bible camps’. This is a relatively new concept for Muslims;
• The nature and structure of IS training apparently enables its operatives to execute terrorist acts in an emotionally detached manner, as demonstrated in the shootings in Paris;
• In selecting what to attack, where, when and how, IS shows its capacity to strike at will, at any time and at almost any chosen target;
• IS is not the only religiously inspired terrorist organisation threatening Western countries. Al-Qaeda is still a factor to be considered and a reason for the EU to focus on a broader range of religiously inspired groups.