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
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas