MOSCOW, October 10 (RIA Novosti), Daria Chernyshova - The threat posed by the Islamic State (IS) is substantial, including terrorist attacks within European borders, as Syria-trained IS sympathizers return to their home countries with training and experience in the battlefield, Raffaello Pantucci, director of international security studies at the Royal United Services Institute, told RIA Novosti.
“I think the threat is very substantial and real and we’ve seen at least five or six plots that have been disrupted publicly in Europe, where there is evidence that people doing attack planning within Europe.
And who had the experience and connection to the battlefield, so it is a threat that is real,” Pantucci told RIA Novosti on Friday in an interview.
“I think we can talk about it as a quite substantial threat and I think it is going to be a major preoccupation for European security forces for probably next five to 10 years.”
Having said that, Pantucci stressed that the global community should not “excessively focus this threat entirely and overestimate the threat itself.”
In late September, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi said that Iraqi intelligence had uncovered plans by IS militants to carry out a series of attacks on subways in Paris and some cities in the United States. Disruptions of other attempted attacks have been reported.
“This is not necessarily something that is only ISIS-related,” Pantucci noted, explaining that the attacks are more frequently carried out by the individuals who associate themselves with the group.
“We should not forget as well that Jabhat al-Nusra and groups around them are the ones who actually are al-Qaeda’s affiliates on the ground in Syria. And those are the groups that have certainly not lost al-Qaeda’s desire for launching attacks against the West, and they remain substantial threat,” he underlined.
Speaking about the recent arrest of a fifth London man in connection with a suspected UK terrorism plot, Pantucci noted that “it is not very clear what the outline of the plot was.”
“But I point to the fact that these people are all very young, one of them has recently returned from Syria and they come from a very particular part of London that we have seen a lot of fighters coming from,” Pantucci stressed.
Security experts have also suggested that the IS militants are using the so-called Trojan horse tactic, with terrorists coming to Europe as refugees.
“It is possible that we’ve seen it happening. But if we look at the arrests, there seem to be a lot more individuals now come back, rather than refugees coming in under different auspices,” Pantucci said about the tactic.
“The threat the is one that we see for some time, the big concern at the moment seems to be individuals who’ve been out there, had the experience, came back and plan to do something under their own steam,” he said. “Frankly, we’ve seen evidence of individuals within the Islamic State making decisions and seeming to inspire the people outside. But we haven’t really seen the group itself making strategic decisions to actually start attack yet. They seem much more in the mode of trying to inspire and instigate attacks rather than actually cad people whom they’ve trained and send back with specific tasking.”
For the last three weeks, IS militants have besieged Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, one of the largest towns in the Kurdish region of Syria bordering Turkey. More than 400 people have died in clashes between IS and Kurdish fighters in Kobani, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
According to the United Nations, more than 170,000 residents of the city have fled to Turkey following the IS’ advance.