Terror in Europe

Norway’s Bow-And-Arrow Attack: Muslim Terrorism Or Mental Health?

The bow-and-arrow murder of five people in the small Norwegian city of Kongsberg this week was particularly chilling for the primitive choice of weapon. And police are now saying the attack Wednesday night is likely to be labeled an act of terrorism.

Still, even though the suspect is a Danish-born convert to Islam, police are still determining the motive. Espen Andersen Bråthen, a 37-year-old Danish national, is previously known to the police, both for reports of radicalization, as well as erratic behavior unrelated to religion.

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Why Christmas Markets Will Stay Prime Targets For Terrorists

-Analysis-

MUNICH — At first glance, the video footage looks like a harmless Advent promotional clip. It showed cheerful people walking between decorated stalls, tinsels, Christmas trees, Santa hats. But back in 2000, the Strasbourg Christmas Market was already a prime target for terrorists, and this video was the most important piece of evidence against those suspected of plotting the attack. A man comments on the video in Arabic: "There we see the enemies of God strolling around," the voice says. "You will go to Hell, God willing."

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Mental Health And Jihad, Are Islamic Terrorists Insane?

Voltaire reminds us that today's Islamic fanaticism is a kind of pathology of religious faith.

PARIS — So who was Stephen Paddock? Was the Las Vegas assassin a "very, very sick individual", as described by Donald Trump? Or a jihadist combatant, recently converted, as ISIS maintains? Or both — or neither? For now, there is no clear response to these questions. But an analogous perplexity returns, again and again, as acts of violence proliferate around the world. In France, in Europe, in the United States, from knife attacks to truck massacres, from shootings to assaults, the same question continues to resurfaces: are we dealing with a "real" terrorist or a mentally ill person? A fanatic or someone unstable? I believe that while this question no doubt is legitimate, it is extremely limited. What is worse, instead, is that it risks making us blind to a more fundamental philosophical analysis that is sorely needed.

The practical scope of this question has to do with the police, first and foremost. The investigation is vastly different, for the police and for the specialized services, if an assailant is a psychopath caught up in some fit of delirium rather than a trained jihadist, acting on orders, as part of a network, controlled by an organization. Despite all this, the boundary between the two is not necessarily easy to trace, because multiple factors tend to blur together.

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Enemies Inside And Out, The Double Threat Facing The West

What connects the violence in Barcelona and Charlottesville? Where have Western democracies gone wrong since the turn of the century?

-Analysis-

PARIS — From a Western point of view, the month of August 2017 will be remembered for a new wave of terror attacks in Europe (in Spain and Finland) and the resurgence of the racial issue in the United States. The bloody events in Barcelona, Turku, and Charlottesville are a brutal reminder that, for a generation, the West has been facing a double challenge.

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Terror in Europe

From Spain To Finland, When #PrayFor Isn't Enough

-Opinion-

Two European cities, two terror attacks.

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Terror in Europe
Jean Chichizola

Homecoming Horror, When Europeans Return From Waging Jihad

PARIS — European nations are bracing themselves for the return of their citizens who had left to fight the wars in Syria and Iraq.

"The EU member states most affected expect a slow but gradual rise of returnees," noted a recent Radicalization Awareness Network (RAN) report submitted to the European Commissioner for Security, Julian King.

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Terror in Europe

World Front Pages Show 'Barcelona In Shock' After Terror Attack

A van rammed into pedestrians at Las Ramblas, a tourist hotspot in Barcelona, killing at least 13 and injuring scores of others on Thursday evening.

The attack, which was claimed by terror group ISIS, underscores a growing technique of deadly assault — namely vehicles striking crowds of people. Police say they foiled a second attack hours later in the town of Cambrils, also on the country's eastern coast, fatally shooting five people. The driver in the Barcelona attack is still at large.

Front pages of newspapers around the world carried stories of the attack. "Terrorists in the heart of Barcelona," declared Italian paper La Repubblica. German publication Göttinger Tageblatt took the pulse of the city: "Barcelona in shock" read its headline, while Spain's La Razon offered a resonant message with a stark cover: "United against terrorism".

SPAIN

"Terror in Barcelona" — La Vanguardia

barcelona_ramblas_terror_attack_terrorism

"United against terrorism" — La Razon

Mundo Deportivo

"Jihadism strikes Spain in Barcelona" — ABC

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Terror in Europe

Father Hamel, A Sole French Terror Victim Worth Remembering

-Analysis-

PARIS — The nation of France has become a new sort of Ground Zero for Islamic terrorism's attack on the West. Over the past 30 months, images have spread around the world of both wanton and targeted terror on French soil: from the January 2015 shooting at the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices, to the coordinated assaults at Parisian cafés and the Bataclan concert hall later that year, to last summer's truck attack in Nice.

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Terror in Europe
Roger-Pol Droit

The Long War Against Terrorism: Tactics, Clarity And Resolve

-Analysis-

PARIS — The scene repeats itself. On the ground, bodies in blood, inanimate, unconscious or already dead, others staggering around frightened and haggard. Soon after, the sounds of sirens, as rescue workers and emergency medical care arrive. Later, we see the first faces of the victims, the identities of the killers. At the scene, as flowers, candles, and speeches arrive, messages of support and compassion flood in from around the world.

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Germany
Max Hoppenstedt, Simon Hurtz and Daniel Mützel

How A Website Used Anti-Immigration Fears To Sell Guns

MUNICH On Oct. 5, German doctor Alexander Haase* opened his web browser and dropped merchandise he wanted to purchase into a checkout basket. He paid 590,99 euros — money that went into a Hungarian bank account. A few weeks later, an inconspicuous brown package arrived by DHL delivery. He opened it. There was a revolver inside.

Haase has no firearms license.

The gun and bullets were delivered to his workplace, a medical office. He voluntarily revealed his name, address, email, phone number as well as IP-address, not knowing that all this information was stored in a large database that ended up with journalists. A couple of months later, these journalists rang Haase's doorbell to ask him why he had purchased a firearm on a website called "Migrantenschreck" ("Migrants-terror").

Last year, hundreds of people in Germany purchased weapons from the website, according to a database this newspaper and technology magazine Motherboard have access to. The orders originated from 12 countries. "Easy, fast and discreet — that's our motto," promised Migrantenschreck. While the transactions might be easy and fast, they are far from discreet. Both public prosecution departments and Federal Offices for the Protection of the Constitution have gotten hold of the client data.

The website's success shows how easy it is to make a lot of money by the rabble-rousing of right-wing extremists, how receptive the "middle-of-society" is to such purchases, and how difficult it is for authorities to clampdown on it. It takes months to build a case against sellers and customers.

For months, Haase had no idea that authorities had already linked him to the website. One winter evening, two journalists stood outside the door of his medical practice. The visitors wanted to know if Haase felt he needed to protect himself from refugees.

Migrantenshreck screenshot

Haase, a tall, stocky man appears to be good-natured as he offered his visitors a cup of coffee. "I don't have a problem with my need for security," he said. He's just interested in weapons. A patient told him he could buy a gun on Darknet or on the Migrantenschreck website. Haase said he feels no grudge against refugees.

Haase opened the box he received from the website to show his visitors the black revolver. He would neither shoot Germans nor refugees, he said. When shown martial product videos that are displayed on the website, he shook his head in disgust.

"Crude," he said. But at the same time he added: "Obviously, people from other countries have different ideas of how to behave in society. Uncontrolled immigration is a problem."

Haase didn't seem aggressive. Instead, he appeared insecure. He offered perspective when he felt his remarks crossed a line. He felt a "duty to help," he said. He had no idea that he was breaking the law. And yet, he does have reason to worry. Migrantenschreck shipped products that were legal in Hungary but not in Germany, where they require a permit.

SZ.de and Vice-linked website Motherboard spoke to a dozen clients of Migrantenschreck since the start of the year: men and women, young and old, professionals and graduates. They included a former policeman who ordered a replacement for his service weapon, a single mother who wants to protect her baby from refugees even though she has never had a bad experience with them.

Haase said he purchased the weapon not because of, but despite of, the website's name. Others attribute their purchase to the migrant crisis. A car mechanic from Berlin warned of the "invasion of migrants' and a "civil war." He said he "wouldn't want to kill any refugees. It's just about teaching them a lesson."

Tale of two men

Journalists came to know about these buyers because of two men — one, a petty crook, and the other, an idealist. Mario Rönsch ran "Anonymous.Kollektiv," a Facebook page that engaged in propaganda against Muslims, refugees and politicians. The page, which had almost 2 million "likes' on the social network, also advertised the illegal weapons store.

Anonymousnews.ru, the successor to Anonymous.Kollektiv, reaches hundreds of thousands of readers. Migrantenschreck shipped weapons worth hundreds of thousands of euros to buyers from the page.

Frank Schreiber* was the opposite of Rönsch. He was not interested in money and power, and worked anonymously. Without Schreiber, investigators wouldn't have anything to hold on to against Migrantenschreck. Schreiber arduously documented each and every step in Rönch's criminal career. Thousands of documents are on Schreiber's hard disk, which contains 37 gigabytes of meticulously organized material on Rönsch.

Rönsch made one big mistake that Schreiber latched on to. "Suddenly this document comes up and I can't believe my eyes," Schreiber said, recalling one night in October when he got his hands on the data of hundreds of Migrantenschreck's customers. The majority of entries correspond to real weapon purchases. Almost all the people who Motherboard and SZ.de paid a visit to bought something on Migrantenschreck.

The website said it offered fair prices for weaponry but it wasn't true. Migrantenschreck sold weapons for more than double the price it purchased them from Hungarian producer Keserű Művek. By the end of January, the store had a turnover of 150,000 euros, according to Zeit Online.

Migrantenschreck has since disappeared from the Internet. Rönsch, who had operated the arms trade from Budapest, now posts pictures from holidays on the Black Sea Coast on Facebook.

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Terror in Europe
Isabelle Lasserre

Who’s Left Behind In New Global Arms Race? Old Europe

France has long been the only country in continental Europe to invest in its military. Though others are now reacting to new threats, it may be too little too late.

-Analysis-

PARIS — In terms of defense, Europe has long lived in la-la land, a world made of cotton and kindness. Protected under the U.S. umbrella since 1945, it fed on the dividends of peace. Certain that social wellbeing was superior to matters of defense and security, Europe reduced its defense budgets for years. Now, Russia's imperialist ambitions and Islamist terrorism have woken up the continent.

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Germany
Mathieu Bock-Côté

A Christmas Wish For Europe: Time To Defend Our Civilization

After the Christmas market attack in Berlin, the Western world would be wrong to assume it can prevent its cultural or political dissolution by merely  repeating its prayers to the glory of diversity.

-OpEd-

PARIS — There was something atrocious and yet, at the same time, terribly ordinary about the scene. A few days before Christmas, a dozen people killed and some 50 more wounded by a truck at a Christmas market in Berlin. It felt like déjà vu after Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel had driven into crowds in Nice on Bastille Day. Once again, a public celebration will chosen as a target to spread terror and trauma among ordinary citizens.

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Terror in Europe
Angelique Negroni

How France Puts A Price On Victims Of Terrorism

PARIS — How much is the life of a victim of terrorism worth? How do you quantify the loss of children taken from their parents? Of husbands or wives torn from their spouse by the bullets of a madman?

These are harrowing questions that require reflection but also a dose of cold economic reasoning. The French government, as a base, offers the victim's family several thousand euros in damages. While the pain and shock felt by loved ones can never be replaced by money, funds are often crucial for families who might suddenly find themselves without a breadwinner.

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LA STAMPA
Domenico Quirico

How To Buy Antiquities Looted By ISIS From An Italian Mobster

In southern Italy, mob clans have entered into an unlikely alliance with the Islamic terror group, exchanging Kalashnikovs for ancient artifacts pillaged in war. One reporter went undercover looking to make a deal.

NAPLES — In the small seaside town of Vietri sul Mare in southern Italy, where the highway from Naples to Reggio Calabria begins, I await my meeting with a member of the Calabrian mafia. Our appointment is at the Lloyd hotel, a "safe place" the man himself suggested.

I'm here undercover, posing as a rich art collector from Turin looking to buy ancient art arriving at the Italian port of Gioia Tauro from the ISIS stronghold of Sirte in Libya. These archeological finds have been looted and sacked from cities and territories conquered by the Islamic State in Libya and the Middle East. The group then sells them to the powerful organized crime networks in southern Italy in exchange for weapons, mainly Kalashnikov rifles and rocket-propelled grenades arriving from Moldova and Ukraine in long-standing supply links with the Russian mob.

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Terror in Europe
Léna Lutaud

The Bataclan, Aching To Rock 'n' Roll Again After Paris Attack

British rocker Pete Doherty is signed up for a November gig, though other artists have opted out of playing in the venue where terrorists killed 90 people last year.

PARIS — The Bataclan concert hall is set to reopen a year after Islamist militants attacked the venue, killing 90 people there last November. The restoration work inside the historic venue in eastern Paris is now coming to an end. The team is finally ready.

All that's missing? The artists.

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Germany
Hans Leyendecker and Georg Mascolo

Germany's "Remote-Control" Terror Attacks, Online Chats Revealed

Investigators assume that ISIS instructors are looking for new candidates for becoming potential terrorists on the Internet. Chat protocols reveal how they proceed.

MUNICH — When German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière was talking last week about the arrests of the three alleged members of the terror group ISIS, he noted that there might also be individual perpetrators being "remote controlled." He appears to be talking about the culprits in the Würzburg and Ansbach attacks this summer in the German state of Bavaria.

"Remote controlled" — that's a whole new category from the terrorism investigators' point of view. The agents who are dealing with this new phenomenon act with the presumption that suspected ISIS instructors move freely across the Internet, recruiting new candidates who are likely to connect with them digitally — "followers-as-terrorists," in a way.

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