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Routes News

01 Dec 2016

BY Edward Robertson

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Terror threat remains ‘very real’ in Europe

The targeting of airports and aircraft by terrorists is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, a terrorism expert has warned.

Emergency workers at Brussels airport after the attack in March 2016
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Terrorism expert warns targeting of airports and aircraft is likely to continue

Professor Andrew Silke, head of criminology and director of terrorism studies at University of East London, said the tactic was well ingrained and had proved to be an effective shock tactic.


He believed that with Isis continuing to fight both in Syria and Iraq while extending its influence across Europe, the continent should brace itself for further attacks.


Silke said: “Is the threat real? It obviously is. Terrorists have attacked airports and aircraft over the past 50 years; their goals might change and the violence might change but the threat to airports is there.”


His comments were backed up by Gijs de Vries, former EU counter-terrorism coordinator and senior visiting fellow for the London School of Economics. He said attacks had been on the rise in the past few years, with 38 people killed in Europe in terrorist attacks between 2009 and 2013.


In comparison he said 151 were killed by terrorists in 2015, while this year saw 32 killed in the attack on Brussels airport and its metro in March and 84 killed in Nice in July.


De Vries added that Europol had also foiled a further 211 attacks this year, with more than 1,000 arrests made in connection with them. He said the danger of further attacks remained real in Europe as Isis fighters returned from the Middle East to inspire the next generation of terrorists.


The fight against terrorism is further compounded with no Europe-wide equivalent of the FBI or CIA to tackle the problem and the failure of individual European police forces to share intelligence.


However, he argued it was vital to continue fighting the problem to secure Europe’s safety. He said: “Successful counter terrorism is about more than law enforcement. We must not only stop today’s terrorists but stop the next generation being radicalised.”

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