Periphery attackers pose different kind of terror threat for Europe

Anthony Glees
Updated 15 October 2017

Periphery attackers pose different kind of terror threat for Europe

LONDON: Terror experts have highlighted the mounting threat posed by low-profile Islamic extremists following a series of attacks across Europe.
Policy makers are increasingly focused on identifying the danger from periphery plotters in an effort to detect hitherto off-the-radar radicals at risk of being drawn deeper into the terrorist activity.
“As Daesh is being slowly taken apart, it will be vital to ensure that those who may previously have kept away from the fray will not now be drawn into it,” said Professor Anthony Glees, director of the Center for Security and Intelligence Studies (BUCSIS) at The University of Buckingham.
With the disintegration of Daesh’s self-proclaimed caliphate in Syria and Iraq, commentators have warned of an evolving threat across Europe as individuals, who might previously have tried to travel to Syria, look to carry out attacks at home.
“The threat picture has moved in such a way that people considered to be peripheral before are becoming center of the plot,” said Rafaello Pantucci, the director for International Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies.
“If you look at the plotting we’ve seen across Europe, there have been far fewer large-scale actors planning complicated operations and much more of these low-level attacks.”
Policy makers, he said, are adapting their response to match the shifting threat from “these random isolated individuals launching this sort of lower-level attack across the continent.”
“Everybody is facing a similar problem,” he continued, pointing to discussions in Germany around changing the laws on how authorities listen in on people, France’s plans to centralize and share intelligence and a spate of deportations in Italy as authorities expel more individuals suspected of having having terrorist ties.
In the UK, new sentencing guidelines have been drawn up to impose tougher punishment on terrorist plotters, targeting those with lower levels of involvement in response to the growing trend toward less sophisticated methods of attack.
Speaking to Arab News in the wake of a recent attack at London’s Parsons Green station, where a home-made bucket bomb was detonated on a District Line tube injuring 30 people, Dr. Abdullah Khaled Al-Saud, a Visiting Fellow at ICSR, King’s College London said: “It has become increasingly difficult for security forces to defend against every possible terrorist attack, especially given the fact that the pattern and nature of terrorist attacks have changed in recent years.”
“Groups have been encouraging their followers to avoid complex and highly coordinated operations, and focus instead on attacks that are very simple to carry out, the ones that would only require a kitchen knife or a rented car or truck.”
In a draft version of the guidelines, the Sentencing Council for England and Wales emphasised the danger of the current climate, “Where a terrorist act could be planned in a very short time using readily available items as weapons” and where “acts of terrorism can be committed by many rather than a few highly-organized individuals.”
Describing the move as a “proportionate response,” Fiyaz Mughal, director of Faith Matters, an organization supporting community integration in the UK, pointed to the “sheer number of plots that are taking place and people ending up supporting the cause.”
“The Daesh ideology has created quite a fanbase and the problem is going to be with us for at least a couple of years.”
“It is important to review the legislation regularly in response to rapidly changing political scenarios,” he said.
Pantucci described the difficulty of responding to a much more diffuse pattern and methodology of terrorism. “Legislation hasn’t kept up with the reality of the threat,” he said, adding that it’s increasingly hard to tell where this is coming from.
“Periphery players keep turning out to be the ones trying to launch an attack so it’s becoming very difficult to calibrate.”


Kim Jong Un invites Trump to Pyongyang

Updated 16 September 2019

Kim Jong Un invites Trump to Pyongyang

  • Invitation extended in an undisclosed personal letter sent to Trump on Aug. 15

SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has invited US President Donald Trump to Pyongyang in his latest letter to the American head of state,  South Korea’s top diplomat said on Monday.

“I heard detailed explanations from US officials that there was such a letter a while ago,” Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-hwa told a  parliamentary session. “But I’m not in a position to confirm what’s in the letter or when it was delivered.”

The foreign minister’s remarks followed reports by a local newspaper, JoongAng Ilbo, which said that Kim’s invitation was extended in an undisclosed personal letter sent to Trump on Aug. 15.

If true, the invitation was made as diplomats of the two governments were in a tug-of-war over the resumption of working-level talks for the North’s denuclearization efforts.

During a surprise meeting at the Korean border village of Panmunjom on June 30, Trump and Kim pledged that working-level nuclear disarmament talks would resume within a month, but no such talks have been held,  with both sides indulging in a blame game instead.

“We are very curious about the background of the American top  diplomat’s thoughtless remarks and we will watch what calculations he has,” North Korea’s first vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui said on Aug. 30 in a statement carried by the North’s official Central News Agency (KCNA). He was referring to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s comments terming Pyongyang’s rocket launches as “rogue.”

However, the tone has changed significantly with the communist state recently offering to return to dialogue with Washington “at a time and place agreed late in September.”

“I want to believe that the US side would come out with an alternative based on a calculation method that serves both sides’ interests and is acceptable to us,” Choe said on Aug. 30.

On Monday, the director-general of the North Korean Foreign Ministry’s department of American affairs said working-level denuclearization talks will likely take place “in a few weeks” but demanded security guarantees and sanctions’ relief as prerequisites.

“The discussion of denuclearization may be possible when threats and hurdles endangering our system security and obstructing our  development are clearly removed beyond all doubt,” the statement said. 

HIGHLIGHT

It’s not clear whether the US president has responded to the invitation, thought he has touted his personal relationship with the young North Korean dictator.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in was upbeat about the early resumption of nuclear talks.

“North Korea-US working-level dialogue will resume soon,” he said, citing an “unchanged commitment” to trust and peace by the leaders of both Koreas and the US. 

The working-level meeting will serve as a “force to advance the peace process on the Korean Peninsula,” he added.

Moon is scheduled to meet Trump on the sidelines of a UN General Assembly session in New York next week.

“It will be an opportunity to share opinions and gather wisdom with Trump on the direction of further development of South Korea-US  relations,” he said.

The White House offered no immediate comment.

It’s not clear whether Trump responded to Kim’s invitation to Pyongyang, but the US commander-in-chief has touted his personal relationship with the young North Korean dictator, who oversaw the test-firings of short-range ballistic missiles and multiple launch rockets more than half a dozen times since late July.

While none of the projectiles are a direct threat to the US continent they still pose threats to US and its allied forces in South Korea and Japan.

“Kim Jong-un has been, you know, pretty straight with me, I think,” Trump told reporters on August 24 before flying off to meet with world leaders at the G7 in France. “And we’re going to see what’s going on. We’re going to see what’s happening. He likes testing missiles.”

Experts say the apparent firing of US National Security Adviser John Bolton has also boosted chances of fresh negotiations with the North, which had long criticized him for his hawkish approach toward the regime.

“The displacement of a ‘bad guy’ could be construed as a negotiating tactic to seek a breakthrough in the stalemate of nuclear talks. It’s a show of a will to engage the counterpart in a friendlier manner from the perspective of negotiation science,” Park Sang-ki, an adjunct professor at the department of business management at Sejong University in Seoul, told Arab News.