The European Union’s anti-terror chief warned Thursday that jihadis could turn to cyber attacks “within the next five years.”
Gilles de Kerchove believes cyber attacks against nuclear power plants and airspace systems may become the next tactic for Islamist terrorists. He further warned that up to 25,000 Islamic fanatics — including 3,000 who are labeled “worrying” — live in the United Kingdom.
“So far there are no cyberterrorism cases, in the sense of penetrating or attempting it in nuclear power plant systems, dams, power plants or airspace,” de Kerchove said in an interview with Spanish newspaper El Mundo. “But I would not be surprised if it happened in the next five [years].”
De Kerchove estimates that “more than 50,000” people in the EU are Islamists. The problem is largest in the U.K., where 3,000 people are under extra surveillance by security agency MI5.
“The United Kingdom has identified 20,000 to 35,000 radicals,” de Kerchove said, before clarifying that it was closer to 25,000. “Of these, 3,000 are worrying for MI5, and of those 500 are under constant and special attention. France has 17,000. Spain many less, but more than 5,000 I suppose. In Belgium almost 500 have been to Syria and there are around 2,000 radicals or more.”
To ease the threat, de Kerchove wants around-the-clock surveillance on the most dangerous individuals. (RELATED: Number Of Potential Terrorists In Germany Continues To Grow)
“We must select those who are really worrying and the most dangerous, and they should be monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” he said.
Germany’s domestic intelligence agency (BfV) recently reported a similar figure on the Islamist population in the country. BfV estimates that around 24,400 Islamists are active. The number marks a slight decrease from the previous report, but a shift toward “a more violence-prone” environment makes the overall terror threat worse.
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