German and Italian intelligence agencies have uncovered evidence indicating that terrorists are planning attacks this summer at resorts in France, Italy, and Spain. The information was first received by Italian intelligence, who passed it along to their German counterpart, the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND), notes a report in the April 19 issue of Bild, Germany’s largest circulation newspaper.
The report noted that it is claimed that the intelligence comes from a “credible source” in Africa, which reports that the terrorists have made “concrete plans” to launch the attacks.
Bild reported that intelligence officials named the beach areas that are definitely targeted by terrorists and they include resorts in southern France, the Costa del Sol in Spain, and both coasts in Italy.
The newspaper quoted an unidentified high-ranking German official as stating: “It could be a whole new dimension of terror. Holiday beaches cannot be protected.”
While some information obtained by Italian and German intelligence is specific, other parts are indefinite and subject to speculation. For example, the Bild report speculates that the potential attackers could come mostly from Senegal, in West Africa, where the Boko Haram terrorist group is active. In March 2015, Boko Haram announced its allegiance to ISIS.
Information gleaned from intelligence reports indicates that the terrorists plan to blend in at resorts by posing as refugees working as ice cream and T-shirt vendors. The reports indicate that the terrorist plan to detonate suicide explosive vests and also to bury explosives in the sand under beach chaise lounges.
Europeans have grown more apprehensive about the threat of terrorist attacks since the bombings that killed 34 people in Brussels on March 22 and the bombings and shootings that killed 130 people in Paris in November.
As these reports were coming out, Spanish police arrested a Moroccan national on April 19 who has been accused of links to the leadership of ISIS and of encouraging attacks in Spain and elsewhere in Europe. The arrest took place in Palma de Mallorca, a city on the Balearic island of Mallorca where the suspect had been residing. Mallorca is an extremely popular holiday destination, particularly for tourists from Germany and the United Kingdom.
A report in Newsweek quoted the Spanish Interior Ministry as stating that the apprehended suspect “tried, both online and in person, to convince vulnerable targets [to fight for ISIS].”
The statement added that the suspect “sent out a strong radicalizing message aimed at attracting new candidates for the Syrian and Iraqi jihad” and “promoted, encouraged and facilitated” their migration to the self-proclaimed caliphate of ISIS for “further integration into the ranks of ISIS.”
The man arrested in Mallorca was not alone in his terrorist connections, noted the Newsweek report. It cited a report from the Spanish news site The Local, which said that on April 16, police arrested a Moroccan man and his Spanish girlfriend in the southern Spanish port city of Algeciras for having “links to ISIS.”
The report also noted that in March, Spanish police in Algeciras and Valencia seized some 20,000 military uniforms and accessories intended for militant groups in Syria and Iraq. Just a month earlier, Spanish authorities dismantled a suspected ISIS cell in raids conducted across the country.
As we have noted in several articles, the ongoing flood of refugees (EU member states reported 1.82 million illegal border crossings in the past year) has provided terrorists with an easily exploitable cover to enter Europe. We reported in a March 24 article that Salah Abdeslam — the leading suspect in the Paris bombings — had been recruited into the terrorist network headed by Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the individual that French and Belgian officials suspected was the mastermind of the Paris attacks. And we noted in another article on March 25 (citing a March 23 Associated Press report) that ISIS has trained an estimated 400 fighters and sent them to Europe to carry out attacks such as the ones in Paris on November 13 and Brussels on March 22.
In a previous article on February 8, we reported that Hans-Georg Maaßen, president of Germany’s domestic security agency (known as the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution — BfV), said that his agency had received more than 100 warnings that Islamic State (ISIS) militants have entered his nation among refugees.
Maaßen said there was “concrete evidence there are people planning terror attacks in Germany,” but there’s “no indication of an imminent attack.”
With these repeated warnings about penetration of EU nations by terrorists from ISIS and other groups, the latest intelligence uncovered by German and Italian agencies that terrorists are planning attacks this summer at European resorts will undoubtedly be taken seriously.
Needless to say, the United States is not immune from terrorist activities, and our intelligence agencies should also remain vigilant.