EU's Terrorism-Related Arrests Dropped by a Third in 2020: Report

Terrorism-related arrests fell by one-third in 2020 compared to 2019, the European Union's (EU) police agency said Tuesday in its annual report on terrorism in the 27-nation bloc.

Europol recorded 57 "failed or foiled terrorist attacks" in six EU nations and 62 "terrorist incidents" in the United Kingdom in 2020, similar to the previous year that saw 119 attacks, including 64 in the U.K.

The report also noted that 21 people were killed in extremist attacks in 2020, with nine of them killed in a right-wing attack in Germany and 12 killed in six jihadist-inspired attacks.

The jihadist attacks were carried out by lone actors, though some were in contact with terrorist groups, the report said.

HAMBURG - GERMANY - JUNE 17: A general view of the Criminal justice building of the Hamburg district and regional court as Omaima A. stands trial on charges of supporting slavery while she lived in Syria under the Islamic State on June 17, 2021 in Hamburg, Germany. Omaima A., who has German and Tunisian citizenship, is already serving prison time for having been an IS member, which German authorities classify as a terrorist organization. In the new charge authorities claim Omaima A. shared two Yazidi women as household slaves with another German IS member, Sarah O., who is currently on trial on similar charges in Dusseldorf. Chris Emil Janssen-Pool/Getty Images

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Extremists sought to use the global pandemic to "spread hate propaganda and exacerbate mistrust in public institutions" in 2020, according to the report.

It cited the arrest in the Netherlands of a man who allegedly called for "citizen's arrests" of lawmakers and public health workers. It said violence by opponents of the Dutch government's lockdown measures included hurling stones and fireworks at one city hall and vandalizing COVID-19 test locations.

Such violence has increased this year, with a mob torching a test location in a Dutch fishing village and a blast that damaged the glass façade of a testing center north of Amsterdam in March.

"The latest report from Europol on the EU terrorism situation illustrates that in the year of the COVID pandemic, the risk of online radicalization has increased. This is particularly true for right-wing terrorism," EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said.

She discussed the issue Tuesday at a meeting in Lisbon with U.S. Secretary for Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.

The report said the use of explosives in terror attacks declined, probably because of COVID-19 lockdowns closing down large gatherings of people. One bombing plot was foiled by authorities.

The US Department of Justice's Counselor for International Affairs Bruce Swartz, left, speaks with Europol Executive Director Catherine De Bolle, right, while taking part in a group photo during the EU-US Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Meeting at the Belem Cultural Center in Lisbon, Tuesday, June 22, 2021. Armando Franca/AP Photo