Europe at risk from Daesh fighters returning from Mideast: Report

Federal Criminal Police chief Holger Muench speaks to open the European Police Congress on February 6, 2018 in Berlin. (AFP)
Updated 14 February 2018
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Europe at risk from Daesh fighters returning from Mideast: Report

LONDON: European countries could face an increased terror risk in 2018 as Daesh fighters return home with training and expertise gained in Syria and Iraq.
Of particular concern is the use of weaponized drones, high-tech car bombs, and other new technologies, although low-tech terror is likely to be prominent, according to a report.
Extremists will remain the primary threat in Europe in 2018, with international operations becoming increasingly important for Daesh, as it seeks to maintain its global relevance.
The report issued by Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre (JTIC) said that returning foreign fighters will inject “capability, ideological rigor and added extremism” to existing radical networks across Europe.
“In the five to 10-year outlook, European countries will face an elevated terrorism threat posed by radicalized convicts, returned foreign fighters and other returnees who have direct ties to the legacy of Daesh,” said Otso Iho, a senior analyst at JTIC by IHS Markit.
“Low-capability” attacks, including the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), attacks using rented or stolen trucks and vans, knife and small-arms attacks are likely to continue, the report claims.
“Foreign fighters returning to Europe will provide critical skills that will help an increasing number of operational (extremist) networks conduct more complex attacks,” Iho said.
“These skills include the construction of viable IEDs... expertise in assault weapons, and the use of new weapons types or technologies such as drones,” he added.
“If such weapons are used in Europe it would mark a notable increase in the threat level.”
According to JTIC, there are indicators that some cells have already attempted to adopt these methods, including the perpetrators of the August 2017 attack in Barcelona. However, the threat is not just from fighters unleashing attacks on their return from the Middle East. The report reveals that the growing number of extremists in European jails is likely to exacerbate the risk of radicalization across the prison population.
Additionally, many of those imprisoned for providing support to groups like Daesh over the past two years are likely to be released between 2019 and 2023, according to data analyzed by JTIC.
It is predicted that European security services will struggle to adequately monitor a combination of returning militants, an increased number of radicalized terror networks across Europe, and the radicalization risks associated with rising extremism in prisons.


Troops called to India's Kerala as flood toll rises

India residents stand on the shore as Periyar river flooded following monsoon rains at Aluva, in the Indian state of Kerala, on August 16, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 16 August 2018
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Troops called to India's Kerala as flood toll rises

  • More than 10,000 kilometers of roads and hundreds of homes have been destroyed or damaged across the state
  • A heavy rainfall “red-alert” has been issued across much of the state, which is home to around 33 million people

KOCHI: Helicopters airlifted stranded families from rooftops and dam gates were thrown open as incessant torrential rain brought fresh havoc Thursday to the Indian state of Kerala where about 100 people are feared dead.
Hundreds of extra troops were deployed in the southern state, a major tourist hotspot, as the government issued a “red alert” over the region’s worst floods in decades.
State authorities said the confirmed death toll was 72 but officials and media reports said up to 30 more people were feared dead Thursday in landslides and as rivers burst their banks, flooding scores of villages.
At least eight people were reported dead and 15 others, including a three-month-old infant, were trapped inside three houses hit by a landslide near an irrigation dam in Malappuram district, the Hindu newspaper said.
Authorities said many people were trapped inside their houses. More than 60,000 people have sought refuge in relief camps.
“At least 6,500 people are stranded in different parts of Kerala and the situation in three districts is particularly grim,” a Kerala state disaster management official told AFP.
Kerala, famed for its pristine palm-lined beaches and tea plantations, is battered by the monsoon every year but this year’s damage has been particularly severe. Floods have also caused havoc in other states, including Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh.
Some 540 army, navy and air forces reinforcements were sent to Kerala on Thursday to join the rescue effort.
The army said it had rescued scores of people with helicopters sent to the region. Defense forces and government boats were also used in an increasingly desperate rescue operation.
Authorities appealed for victims to stand in open fields or on rooftops away from trees so helicopters were not damaged during rescue efforts.

People could be seen paddling lifeboats provided by the military, while in some areas families commandeered local wooden boats to ferry themselves to safety.
Army helicopters rescued families but also dropped food packets and drinking water to some of the worst-affected districts.
The government says 10,000 kilometers (6,000 miles) of Kerala roads have been destroyed or damaged and hundreds of homes lost.
It has ordered the opening of gates at 34 dams and reservoirs where water levels had reached danger levels.
Cars and livestock washed away in the floods were seen on Indian television, and men and women wading through chest-high waters that had gushed into their homes.
Many used social media to send rooftop distress calls, some with video.
Greeta Mathew pleaded for help for her family in a Twitter message.
“Anybody reading this,PLZ HELP. My relatives are stuck on the upper floor of house with an 8 months pregnant lady, in Edayaranmula, Pathanamthitta dist. All rescue control rooms’ numbers busy. No rescue team reached yet. No contact with family since last evening,” she said.
North and central Kerala has been worst hit by the floods but all 14 of the state’s districts have been put on alert as heavy rain is predicted for several days.
In the main city of Kochi, the international airport was closed until at least Saturday because of flooding. Departures were canceled while incoming flights have been diverted to other airports in India.
All public transport has been stopped with many buses left abandoned in the road.
Elsewhere, eight people were swept away on Wednesday after a sudden water surge hit a popular picnic in Madhya Pradesh state. Another 45 stranded were rescued on Thursday by police.