Islamic State-linked terror plots are increasing with attacks on the West foiled or taking place at a rate of more than two a month, according to a new study.
Since the declaration of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (Isil) “caliphate” last year, nine attacks unfolded out of a total of 32 Isil-inspired plots, or 2.3 a month, the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) said.
The think tank’s latest study of Isil-related terror found that the extremist group’s slick media operation is contributing to the radicalisation and inspiring attacks in Europe and elsewhere.
Although the US is under greater threat of attacks, countries in Europe have seen a higher number of deaths resulting from attacks.
According to the report author, Robin Simcox, there are likely to be many more attacks planned that the public is not aware of. The research fellow at HJS pointed to the recent drone strikes on extremists in Syria planning to attack the UK.
“For example, look at Reyaad Khan who was one of those killed in the UK drone strike. He had been planning or encouraging attacks from Syria against the UK armed forces in parades as well as Junaid Hussain alongside him.
“But they don’t appear in my report because I was going for arrests and convictions, whereas he was in touch with people in the UK, encouraging them but it didn’t lead to an arrest.”
Mr Simcox added that many plots were disrupted in the early stages before they led to an arrest.
The report highlighted an increase in Isil-linked plots in the last 12 months and the author told the Telegraph that his own research proved there were more attacks planned, foiled or had taken place every four weeks in the last few months.
“The last five months of the period studied, there are an average of five plots that take place or foiled in three of those months and in one, there’s more in one month.
“So actually the number of 2.3–which is the average and I agree it’s high–it’s disproportionately low when you look at the most recent months.”
He added: “There’s no reason to believe that this rate won’t remain the same. There’s all sorts of things we can do to try and reduce the threat but if you look at the nature of the plots taking place in Europe, they involve guns and knives.”
The report released on Wednesday exclusively to the Telegraph found that only one attack had been directly organised by Isil itself involving fighters who had previously travelled to Syria and Iraq.
Terrorists in Verviers, eastern Belgium were planning an attack after they had returned home from the Middle East. Special forces raided the apartment of Marouane el-Bali, Sofiane Amghar and Khalid Ben Larbi, who were heavily armed and opened fire with Kalashnikovs and grenades.
Amghar and Ben Larbi were killed while Bali was taken into custodyand charged with participation in a terrorist organisation, possession of explosions with intent to commit a criminal attack and prohibited possion of weapons.
Mr Simcox said he feared that there could be more crude attacks called for by Isil spokesman, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani in September last year.
“That ideology and that instruction [from al-Adnani] and that propaganda drives people into this kind of crude attack.”
He pointed to recent plots where terrorists or would-be terrorists moved away from al-Qaeda-type bombmaking plans to “much more low grade, crude attacks using guns and vehicles”.
He said there was “a clear link between the instruction by al-Adnani to carry out these attacks and then the blossoming in the months afterwards”.
According to Mr Simcox the threat could only be countered properly “with a more robust military response” as well as stopping people travelling to Syria to join the so-called “caliphate”.
He stressed the importance of showing the UK offers a “better ideology” as well as military force because a “smart press release” would not alone win the fight against Isil.