04:39 GMT +315 October 2019
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    ISIL vs Al-Qaeda: Growing Rivalry Threatens Europe With New Deadly Attacks

    © REUTERS / Christian Hartmann
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    A senior EU anti-terrorism official has warned that al-Qaeda may carry out attacks in Europe and Africa to prove that it's still the leader of the global Jihad.

    European Union Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove said Saturday that al-Qaeda may attempt to carry out a new terror attack in Europe to demonstrate that it still possesses the "leadership of global Jihad."

    "There is a fierce competition between al-Qaeda and Daesh [the Arabic acronym for ISIL] over the leadership of global jihad; we may at some stage see al-Qaeda launching an attack in Europe or Africa to show that they are still relevant," de Kerchove stated, speaking at the Brussels Forum, an annual policy conference, on Saturday.

    De Kerchove noted that the terror threat to Europe and the United States has become "much more complex" since the attacks of September 11, 2001. At that time, "we had an organization, al-Qaeda, structured like a multinational company."

    Now, with an estimated 5,000 European citizens traveling to ISIL-controlled territories in Iraq and Syria to train and fight alongside Islamic extremist groups, de Kerchove believes that the risks of lone wolf attacks on Europe stemming from their return have "increased significantly."

    De Kerchove noted that the EU must have "much more political engagement with the Gulf" states, some of whom have been accused of arming and financing radical Islamist groups, in the aims of anti-terrorism cooperation.

    Speaking to forum participants, including European and American political, corporate and intellectual leaders, the security chief added that "we should not forget [about] ideology," noting that the groups' "distorted interpretation of Islam has some impact in Europe." De Lerchove warned that young Europeans "with no contact to terrorist organizations" who get radicalized online, in prison or by extremist imams in their home countries are also a threat to continental security. The anti-terror chief cited terrorists who carried out attacks in Paris and Copenhagen earlier this year to drive his point home.

    At least one of the three gunmen involved in the Paris attacks had connections to Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Another declared his allegiance to the Islamic State.

    De Kerchove noted that he would like to see more done about removing illegal web content related to terror, but added that "it is a very tricky issue because we are divided on the scope of free speech in Europe."

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    Tags:
    Daesh, terrorism, counterterrorism, counterterror, Gulf States, Europe
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