Europe’s Top Anti-Terrorism Official: U.K. Home To 35,000 Extremists


Ryan Saavedra Contributor
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The European Union’s top anti-terrorism official said Thursday that the UK is home to more Islamic extremists than any other country in Europe.

Giles de Kerchove, the EU’s counter-terrorism coordinator, said the UK is home to up to 35,000 Islamic extremists of which 3,000 are worrying MI5 – the UK’s domestic counter-intelligence and security agency, the Daily Express reported.

Of the 3,000 Islamic extremists that concern MI5, 500 of them are so dangerous that they are under “constant and special attention.”

De Kerchove warned that the threat from ISIS might be increasing in Europe over the next several years as he believes the Islamic terrorist organization will attempt cyber-attacks on nuclear power plants and air traffic control systems by possibly utilizing the services of sophisticated Russian hackers.

“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,” de Kerchove said.

De Kerchove estimated in his interview with Spain’s El Mundo newspaper that Europe has over 50,000 Islamic extremists.

“France has 17,000,” de Kerchove continued. “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.”

The 10-year head of Europe’s counter-terrorism efforts expressed his concern over the increasingly difficult task of rooting out extremism after the recent attacks in Barcelona.

“They succeeded in preparing the attacks under the radar,” de Kerchove noted. “The propaganda of the organization no longer requires people to go to the caliphate. They can attack in their places or origin, including on a small scale with home-made weapons.”

De Kerchove’s prediction that Europe will continue experiencing terrorist attacks from ISIS five years from now is somewhat surprising given the Trump administration’s “dramatically accelerated” gains against ISIS.

“Brett McGurk, the State Department’s senior envoy to the anti-Islamic State coalition, said that steps President Trump has taken, including delegating decision-making authority down from the White House to commanders in the field, have ‘dramatically accelerated’ gains against the militants,” the Washington Post reported in early August.

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Ryan Saavedra