Italy not immune to terror attacks, expert says

Italy not immune to terror attacks, expert says |

Italy has raised its terror alert to the highest possible level following the terror attack in Moscow that killed around 140 people, as experts say that the country is not immune to the risk.

Following France’s lead, Italy elevated its security alert level this week following Saturday’s assault on a suburban Moscow concert hall, which was claimed by an affiliate of the Islamic State group.

The National Committee for Public Security, chaired by Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi, stressed the need to step up anti-terrorism measures across Italy during the Easter holidays.

This includes increased surveillance at popular tourist destinations and “sensitive sites”.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani reassured the public on Sunday that Italy faces “no concrete risk” and said that the country’s security and law enforcement agencies remain vigilant to thwart any potential threats.

In an interview with Euractiv Italy, Claudio Bertolotti, a researcher at the Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI) and director of Start Insight, highlighted Italy’s often-overlooked experience with terrorism.

According to him, Italy has witnessed 10 acts of terrorism or episodes of jihadist violence since 2014. However, these incidents, mostly unsuccessful attempts, have not received significant media coverage, fostering a false sense of immunity from terrorism among the public.

Bertolotti also said that in terms of numbers, Italy faces fewer potential threats than countries such as France, Germany, the UK and Belgium, which can be more affected due to higher levels of radicalisation within their Muslim communities.

He also suggested that the situation in Italy may evolve over time, citing the significant number of Italian youths who responded to the Islamic State’s call to join the fight in Syria in June 2014.

Bertolotti challenges the notion that terrorism alerts in Europe have risen in the wake of the Moscow massacre, suggesting instead that the threat remains constant.

According to him, there is a pattern in which major terrorist incidents are often followed by a series of secondary, often unsuccessful, attacks, fuelled by media attention and emulation among the perpetrators, typically lasting around eight days.

According to the expert, the number of attempted terrorist attacks in Europe, which typically hovers between 10 and 15 per year, has not decreased, although there has been a decline in effectiveness and media attention compared to previous years.

This trend has led the Islamic State to claim only the attacks that were successful.

Citing his organisation’s report on terrorism, Bertolotti noted that an interesting aspect has emerged in recent years, particularly in France, with an increase in the number of terrorists who have carried out attacks within a few days or weeks of arriving in the country, and the majority of these individuals have come from Italy.

(Alessia Peretti, Simone Cantarini|

Read more with Euractiv

Italy not immune to terror attacks, expert says |

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