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The Islamic State rushed to claim responsibility for the Christmas market attack in Berlin on 20 December 2016 and this eagerness to cash in the propaganda chips is only one indication of how important it is for ISIL to score a hit against Germany. The country stands at the core of ISIL’s strategy for Europe and, so as to think about possible remedies, it is essential to understand why.

ISIL’s terror campaign in Europe began on 24 May 2014 with the attack against the Jewish Museum in Brussels, before al-Baghdadi proclaimed himself “caliph” and before the US-led coalition started bombing ISIL positions in Iraq and Syria. Actually, there are bigger reasons why ISIL focuses on Europe which go beyond the explanation of bombings and truck attacks as a response to Western strikes in Syraq.

First, to ISIL Europe is a pool of potential recruits and a dangerous counter-model of enduring coexistence; in this sense, terror attacks are intended to generate internal strife and societal tension so as to encourage young Muslim men to join the Jihadist cause in Syraq and to demonstrate the failure of the democratic alternative to caliphate. Second, Europe shows how communities can live side by side thanks to open door policies to refugees; these ones are betrayers of their countries since they left the true path of the caliphate.

In the larger picture, the last attacks are part of a new wave of global terror which is bound to the fall of insurgent-held Aleppo. Actually, ISIL is the winner of this turning point in the Syrian war for three reasons: (1) the regime of al-Assad liquidated the forces which had driven ISIL from Aleppo, (2) ISIL took back Palmyra and (3) the international passivity during the siege of Aleppo field jihadist propaganda about an international conspiracy against Muslim civilians.

As long as Raqqa stands as the operational command center for ISIL terror attacks, Europe will be struck again and again; with the US stuck in Mosul and the Russians mopping up Aleppo, it seems that ISIL could sit comfortably for some time more in Raqqa.


The gLAWcal Team

LIBEAC project

Tuesday, 3 January 2017