Modern Terrorism in Europe
Written by Hailey Hannigan
Europe’s Rise in Modern Terror
From 19th-century assassination attempts to anarchist bombings in the early 20th century, Europe is no stranger to terrorism. But up until 2004, none of Europe’s security threats came from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Of the fourteen major attacks since 2004, ten of those were perpetrated by or linked to ISIS (Statista 2018).
There are a number of reasons why Europe is a hotbed of recent terrorist activity. Poor integration and geography play into the reason for the attacks. Europe has seen immigration rates from Middle Eastern countries skyrocket at unprecedented rates. Muslims represent between 5% and 6% in many Western European countries (Hackett 2017). Many second- and third-generation immigrants feel marginalized and have little sense of belonging in the country of their birth. In 2016, British Muslims had an unemployment rate of 12.8% compared to the 5.4% of the general population. Unemployment, coupled with the heightened levels of xenophobia, cause a breeding ground for discontent. France and Belgium are the “capital[s] for foreign jihadist fighters,” and coincidentally have the “most radicalized and ostracized Muslim neighborhoods on the continent” (Bremmer 2016). A Chatham House study conducted in February 2017 found that between 41% and 71% of citizens in ten different European states agreed that “all further migration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped” (Goodwin, Raines, and Cutts 2017). This causes these second and third-generation immigrants, especially young men, to connect more with the land of their parents. “Jihadi recruiters exploit this sense of marginalization” and in turn, up to 5000 Europeans have joined Jihadist ranks (Teffer 2015).
Because Europe is closer to the Middle Eastern region and more immigrants flee to Europe than other places, “jihadis fleeing the battlefields of Iraq or Syria, [find] Europe simply easier to reach” (Maher 2017). The way forward in face of such attacks is highly contested, and though counter-terrorism measures have been taken, Europe has by no means solved their security issues.
Bremmer, Ian. “These 5 Facts Explain Why Europe Is Ground Zero for Terrorism.” TIME, March 22, 2016. Accessed October 11, 2018. time.com.
Fenton, Siobhan. “6 Charts Which Show the Employment Barriers Faced by British Muslims.” Independent, August 11, 2016. Accessed October 12, 2018. www.independent.co.uk.
Goodwin, Matthew, Thomas Raines, and David Cutts. “What Do Europeans Think About Muslim Immigration?” Chatham House, February 7, 2017. Accessed October 12, 2018. www.chathamhouse.org.
Hackett, Conrad. “5 Facts About the Muslim Population in Europe.” Fact Tank, November 29, 2017. Accessed October 12, 2018. /www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank.
Maher, Richard. “London Train Bombing: Why Is Europe Seeing so Many Terrorist Attacks?” The Conversation, September 19, 2017. Accessed October 11, 2018. Theconversation.com.
Teffer, Peter. “Up to 5,000 Europeans Joined Jihad, Europol Chief Says.” EU Observer, January 14, 2015. Accessed October 12, 2018. Euobserver.com.
Statista. “Terrorism in Europe – Statistics & Facts.” Statsia. Accessed October 12, 2018. www.statista.com/topics/3788/terrorism-in-europe.