Video: ‘Islamist terrorism is the biggest threat in Europe’
Islamist terrorism and the radicalization of young Muslims has taken center stage in Europe. With schools, universities and even sport clubs becoming hotbeds of Islamism, experts argue that some European countries have willingly allowed it.
Claude Monique, an expert on counterterrorism and extremism and the director of the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center, told RT that while European intelligence was engaged in battling a bigger threat – communism and the former Soviet Union – it ignored what has become a defining threat of the modern age.
RT: Terrorism in Europe: We’ve seen acts of terror from Breivik in Norway to Mohamed Merah in Toulouse, and we have also seen riots based on ideology. Based on what you’ve seen so far, where is the biggest threat coming from?
Claude Moniquet: I think that we have three different threats today in Europe. The biggest one clearly is still Islamist terrorism. Why it is the biggest? Because we have a large number, thousands of people involved – not in special interest actions but in extremist actions, and are able to become terrorists in the future. We don't have thousands of such people on the right wing, for instance.
So we have thousands of people who have a very clear political and religious agenda. We have a radicalization process which is ongoing for years now, so I think clearly, Islamist terrorism is the biggest threat in Europe.
After this, we have two different threats. The first one is right-wing terrorism like Breivik, but if we accept the Breivik case, we didn't have real large-scale act of terrorism from the right wing for 20 years.
And the last threat would be the left-wing terrorism. Which for the moment doesn't exist in Europe, but it existed 20 years ago – we have clear signs that in Italy, in Greece, we have some anarcho-Marxist groups at work, but very small and on a very low scale
RT: Different though their ideologies may be, these three groups are extremes. You mentioned the radicalization process, and how difficult it is to intercept. Where is the radicalization process actually happening? Are we talking about schools, universities, mosques, prisons? How do we identify it?
CM: Radicalization is going on through different channels. First of all, it is going on in areas, in the cities, in municipalities, in the sports facilities, in the gym clubs, in the football clubs, of course in schools.
So that is the base. After this you have different ways or different places, like prison of course, and universities.
Most of the radicalization is done at a young age and it's done in the streets, it's done in the municipalities, in some schools. When people come to university for instance, those who are radicalized are already radicalized, and the others will probably not be radicalized. It's a minority, we must understand that clearly, radicalization could be a concern of maybe ten to 15 percent of the young Muslims in Europe. (...)