The terrorism is perceived as the principal threat for the Western countries, for this reason the European State members announced the creation of a new European counter-terrorism centre.
The centre is opening this month, it aims to improve information-sharing among national law enforcement bodies involved in investigation on terrorism activities. The creation of the centre represents an urgency after the tragic events in Paris.
“It establishes for the first time in Europe a dedicated operation centre,” explained the director of Europol Rob Wainwright in an interview with AFP at the World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland).
“It will provide French and Belgian police services and their counterparts around Europe with the platform they need to share information more quickly and to crack down on the terrorist groups that are active.”
The counter-terrorism centre was announced in March 2015, Government ministers from EU member states proposed the unit at an EU Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting. The new Internet Referral Unit would come under the control of Europol, the intent was to launch the new counter-terrorism unit by 1 June 2015.
“The internet is a major facilitator for radicalisation to terrorism. Addressing this matter poses a number of different challenges,” a briefing document detailing the plans says. It adds: “The sheer volume of internet content promoting terrorism and extremism requires pooling of resources and a close cooperation with the industry.” reported the BBC.
Gilles de Kerchove, the EU’s counter-terrorism chief, explained that tragic events of Charlie Hebdo in Paris elevated the need to tackle extremism across the Union, with a specific reference to online activities of cells of terrorists operating on the Internet.
In Europe, various states already have in place operative units that investigated on terrorism on the Internet, one of the most popular team in the British Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU).
The new counter-terrorism unit planned by European Governments will rely on a strong co-operation of different intelligence agencies and law enforcement.
It will be expected to flag “terrorist and extremist online content”, the unit will provide the necessary support to the investigations by law enforcement agencies and will improve information sharing on the threat.
“Each member state would be expected to nominate a partner authority to work with the new unit.” “This can be the national cybercrime or internet safety department, or a dedicated unit dealing with terrorist content on-line,” states the document.
Clearly, after the attacks in Paris in November, everything changed, Europe has discovered itself fragile, but compact against a common threat, the ISIS radical group.
“We will be working to improve intelligence sharing and to maximise our capability to track terrorist financing,” Wainwright said.
The new centre is located at the Europol’s headquarters in the Hague, it will try to monitor any activity online conducted by extremist groups, investigating how these groups exploit the Internet for their operations.
[extremist groups]”are abusing the Internet and social media, in particular for their propaganda and recruitment purposes,” Mr. Wainwright added.
Wainwright explained the consequence of the tragic events in Paris, confirming that European law enforcement agencies are intensifying their collaboration to face the threat that is also mastering new technologies.
“In the context of what happened after the attacks in Paris, France and Belgium have established an extremely close working relationship involving Europol,” he said.
“What I have seen over the last few years but particularly in the last year, in the face of the worst terrorist attacks we have seen in Europe for over a decade, is intensified cooperation.”
Wainwright also revealed his concerns about the “significant growth” in the faking of ID documents for use by extremists. According to a report issued by the US intelligence at the end of 2015, the ISIS has the ability to create fake Syrian passports.
Law enforcement believes at least two of the Paris suicide bombers entered Europe through Greece, using fake documents.
“There are many criminal actors that have become more active, more sophisticated and also the quality of the faked documents they are providing (has improved), and they responded to the opportunities that the migration crisis in 2015 gave us,” he said.
“So we need to make sure that our border guard officials are alive to that threat, that they are better trained, of course, and to make sure that there is access to the right databases, including the dedicated database that Interpol has on lost and stolen documents.”
(Security Affairs – terrorism, Europol)