Britain is focal point for terrorism, warns Europe's police force

Bleak report portrays EU under siege, with terror plots soaring and the UK fertile ground for jihadist recruiters

Britain is the focal point for Islamic terrorism across Europe, and its controversial military campaigns overseas are putting the entire continent at risk, a disturbing new report has warned.

An analysis of the terrorist threat by Europol, the European Police Office, has concluded that the dangers posed by militant groups rose to unprecedented proportions in 2007, with steep increases in the number of arrests, plots and attacks.

But Islamic terrorism, particularly through a rejuvenated al-Qa'ida, was highlighted as the most significant security threat to the authorities in the UK. At least one person is arrested every day across Europe under suspicion of involvement in Islamic terror conspiracies or attacks. Europol warned that the UK was recognised as fertile ground for radical Islamists seeking recruits to their jihadist campaigns, with "young, radicalised British citizens" often used to mount attacks.

The bleak warning came as the Government prepared for a battle over its plans to allow the police to detain terror suspects for up to six weeks without charge.

The EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report revealed there were 203 terror-related arrests in the UK last year, when the danger was demonstrated by abortive attempts to detonate bombs in London and at Glasgow airport in June. Europol said the British figure was 30 per cent up on 2006, with the "vast majority" relating to Islamism; 201 Islamist-related terror arrests were made across the 26 other EU member states.

Europol experts identified the lawless tribal areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan as troublesome, as they hosted training camps for some of the most committed jihadists. But the report also warned of other areas emerging as threats: in Somalia, "dozens" of British passport holders were fighting alongside the Islamists. There are also indications that terrorist training and attack planning, with a focus on the UK, is taking place in Somalia.

British sources said that further attacks on the UK were "highly likely", with the number of terror suspects being monitored rising from 500 to 2,000 since the start of the Iraq War.

The report also warned that British foreign policy presented critical dangers for all Europe: "The conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq have a large impact on the security environment of the EU."

Professor David Capitanchik, a terrorism expert at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, said: "We certainly face a greater threat, partly because we have such a large immigrant population which is more vulnerable to radical Islamic thinking... We are paying the price of giving political asylum for so long to individuals who were wanted for terrorist-related offences in their own countries."

Europol, which co-ordinates law enforcement information across the EU, warned that al-Qa'ida was stepping up its campaign against Britain and its European allies, after "rebuilding its capabilities". Europol's investigation portrays Europe as a continent under siege, with conspiracies cropping up in a wide range of member states.

A Home Office spokesman confirmed that most of the Europol findings tallied with official figures, and underlined the Government's consistent warnings about the scale of the terror threat facing the nation. But he insisted that the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan had no bearing on the level of the security threat in the UK or in the rest of Europe.

To have your say on this or any other issue visit www.independent.co.uk/IoSblogs

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living