The attack in Iran is a sign of a strengthened network. The threat situation is increasing – also in Europe. Reasons.
Let's just say the fall: The establishment of the IS organization dates back to 2013. At that time, Muslims were spread in the border region of Syria and Iraq. The international community reacted slowly to the threat – but then reacted with full force. When the United States announced the death of longtime leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2019, some described the Islamic State as defeated. In the years since, the number of attacks has declined, but branches have sprung up around the world, and IS lives on thanks to its propaganda on social media.
Afghanistan's Void: Various developments in recent years have led to IS in new areas. The US withdrawal from Afghanistan in the summer of 2021 is highly consequential. Since then, the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISPK) has gained respect in Islamic circles for its attack on the Kabul airport. The Taliban are enemies of the ISPK and claim to be fighting against an IS branch. Nevertheless, IS has managed to recruit several thousand fighters and maintain safe havens. From there, the ISPK conducts attacks in the region and carries out intensive propaganda, including in English.
New networks in Europe: According to statistics from the European Police Commission (Interpol). Attacks by jihadists have declined in recent years. But now the judicial authorities have to respond to the changing threat landscape. Jihadists in Afghanistan are exporting their ideology to Central Asia and Europe. In Germany, Islamists from Tajikistan have been arrested several times in recent times – a group that previously received little attention. German terrorism expert Peter Neumann recently warned ISPK is the most active IS branch. Nicolas Stockhammer, a professor at Danube University Krems, calls the group a “game changer” for Europe.
IS in Europe – A Timeline (2020-2023)
- September 2020: A man kills another with a knife in Morgus v. The perpetrator described himself as an IS sympathizer, making the attack Switzerland's first Islamist attack.
- October 2020: A man attacks two men and injures one of them in Dresden.
- November 2020: A 29-year-old man attacks two women with a knife in Lugano. She refers to the Islamic State.
- November 2020: An IS sympathizer shot dead four people in Vienna.
- May 2022: German authorities arrested five Tajik men. They planned to bomb American bases in Germany.
- Summer 2022: Authorities have arrested several suspected IS supporters in Germany and Switzerland.
- June 2023: Austrian justice officials prevented an attack on the Pride Parade in Vienna at the last minute.
- July 2023: In Germany's North Rhine-Westphalia state, police dismantled an Islamic group. Seven people believed to be members of the ISPK have been arrested.
- October 2023: A student stabbed a teacher to death and injured three others in the small town of Arras in northern France. The individual perpetrator was an IS sympathizer.
- October 2023: A few days later, a lone gunman shot and killed two Swedish soccer fans (one living in Switzerland) in Brussels. The IS claimed responsibility for the attack.
- December 2023An attacker kills a German tourist near the Eiffel Tower. The accused later said he had sworn allegiance to IS. However, the link cannot be confirmed.
- December 2023: Police arrested three people on New Year's Day in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. They are said to be planning an attack on Cologne Cathedral.
War in the Middle East: The October 7 Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel and their aftermath fall into this mix. They incite some degree of hatred towards the Jews. So IS and other jihadist propaganda finds fertile ground here in many places. Jewish and Israeli targets in Europe are moving ever closer to the center of the threat landscape. On Thursday, after IS claimed responsibility for the attack in Kerman, it also announced the start of a new campaign. Its title: “Kill them wherever you find them.” It calls for attacks all over the world.
Muslims of different religions as targets: The attacks in Kerman may be the worst in the history of the Islamic Republic of Iran. But they are not the first to claim responsibility for IS. In October 2022, an assassin killed 15 pilgrims in Shiraz. Radical Sunnis have always viewed the predominantly Shiite government and regime as hostile. Sunni IS fuel hatred against Shiites, which also explains the attack in Kerman. IS has repeatedly attacked Shia communities in Iraq and Afghanistan. His deadly logic: All those who submit to his interpretation of Islam are infidels and therefore legitimate targets.
“Tagesschau” 7:30 p.m
More on the topic today at 7:30 pm on “Tagesschau” on SRF 1.
“Wannabe pop culture fanatic. Zombie advocate. Entrepreneur. Internet evangelist. Alcohol fanatic. Typical travel buff.”