'Europe the target of more ISIS strikes'

Europol report comes a day after group releases video said to show nine militants involved in the Paris attacks

BEIRUT • The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has honed the ability to launch global attacks and is set to focus more on Europe following the Paris massacre last year, the chief of the EU police agency Europol said yesterday.

Mr Rob Wainwright's statement came one day after ISIS released a video purporting to show nine militants involved in the November Paris attacks that killed 130 people.

He said "the so-called Islamic State had developed a new combat style capability to carry out a campaign of large-scale terrorist attacks on a global stage - with a particular focus in Europe".

ISIS "has a willingness and a capability to carry out further attacks in Europe, and of course all national authorities are working to prevent that from happening", he added.

Mr Wainwright was unveiling the findings of a Europol report on changes in how the militant group operates at the launch of the agency's new counterterrorism centre in The Hague.

The centre will seek to improve information exchange and identify the links between terrorism and other criminal sectors.

The report said ISIS is preparing "more terrorist attacks, including more 'Mumbai-style' attacks, to be executed in member states of the European Union, and in France in particular".

"The attacks will be primarily directed at soft targets because of the impact they generate. Both the November Paris attacks and the October 2015 bombing of a Russian airliner suggest a shift in [ISIS] strategy towards going global."

The video posted on the group's websites on Sunday, entitled "Kill wherever you find them", shows the four Belgians, three French citizens and two Iraqis said to be responsible for the attacks.

It also depicts the nine carrying out atrocities in Syria and Iraq before the rampage in Paris, including beheading and shooting people described as hostages.

In the video, the militants, speaking in French and in Arabic, say their "message is addressed to all the countries taking part in the (US-led) coalition" that has been fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq since September 2014.

The footage also shows a picture of British Prime Minister David Cameron with the message in English: "Whoever stands in the ranks of kufr (unbelievers) will be a target for our swords."

The video, produced by ISIS' Al-Hayat Media Centre, also describes the attackers as "lions" who "brought France to its knees".

Mr Cameron's office dismissed the video, with his spokesman saying yesterday: "We're in the process of examining this latest propaganda video, which is another move from an appalling terrorist group that's clearly in decline... "

If the identities of all the men in the video are confirmed, it would be the first bit of evidence that they were sent from ISIS' base in Syria.

French President Francois Hollande has vowed not to let threats deter the country from its fight against terrorism.

"Nothing will deter us, no threat will make France waver in the fight against terrorism," he said yesterday, adding: "These images only serve to discredit the perpetrators of this crime."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2016, with the headline ''Europe the target of more ISIS strikes''. Print Edition | Subscribe