ISIS: Poised for Attacks in Europe and Australia

ISIS continues to direct and inspire individuals to carry out attacks in Europe and Australia, leveraging existing familial and virtual ties, exploiting Muslim diaspora communities, and promoting unsophisticated attack methods to target the West. Since January 2016, ISIS has claimed responsibility for 18 successful attacks in Europe, resulting in 197 deaths and over 1,100 injuries.

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  • In July, Australian authorities arrested two brothers, Khaled and Mahmoud Khayat, for allegedly plotting to target a commercial airliner in Sydney, possibly on behalf of ISIS.

  • Since 2015, at least 1,750 Europeans have returned from the Middle East after fighting with ISIS, according to a European Union report. In May, Salman Ramadan Abedi detonated an improvised explosive device at the Manchester Arena, killing 22 and injuring 129. Abedi had previously met with ISIS-linked operatives in Libya, who had ties to the Paris attacks in 2015.

  • Since 2016, ISIS has published 13 magazines in multiple languages, including English, Arabic, German, and French, as well as other online documents and videos.  In August, an ISIS-inspired cell in Spain carried out a number of attacks, leveraging unsophisticated tactics detailed in ISIS’s English-language magazine, Rumiyah, including the use of vehicles and knives. Additionally, the May edition of Rumiyah called for supports to wage “all-out war” on the West.

Historically, Muslim communities in the UK, France, Germany, and Australia, have faced social exclusion, poor economic opportunity, and a lack of civic engagement, which has fueled their resentment, radicalization, and support for anti-Western narratives.

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