Terror warning: Governments urged to focus on ‘sympathisers’ to stop attacks

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According to the Annual Terrorism Index from the Institute of Economics and Peace (IEP), the number of terrorist-related deaths has reached a five year low. Despite the global decrease, the UK had the fourth-highest number of ISIS-related deaths in the West between 2014 and 2019.

Now, Steve Killelea, executive chairman of the IEP, has warned governments to be more concerned with terrorist sympathisers.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Killelea said: “I think at this stage it is right [to be concerned about sympathisers than the groups], this is one of the things which we have found with the research this year.

“This research provided an understanding of how systems operate to better understand what creates a terrorist organisation and how do they grow.

“What it comes down to is three things what we call influence.

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“What creates the influence of a group is three things; coverage in the media – particularly social media and the way it is projected in social media.

“The finances they are able to obtain and also the number of sympathisers and their ability to bring them over to the cause.

“Those three things act altogether.

“The dynamics fuel in together.

“Any thought-out terrorist attack is all those three things simultaneously.”

He went on to provide some advice for governments to crack down of terrorist sympathisers including monitoring social media platforms.

He said: “There is the monitoring of social media sites which I think is one way it can be done.

“That gives the ability to be able to track and pick up and isolate individuals.

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“It would be people with a history of sympathising or associating with ISL or other jihadists organisations in the past.

“They will be able to possibly better understand which ones are likely to commit attacks.

“Certainly, if people feel they are being watched, they are less likely to commit attacks.”

The UK Government raised the terror threat level to severe following the terrorist incidents in France and Vienna earlier this year, but Mr Killelea warned there is likely to be more “small isolated” attacks in Europe.

Mr Killelea added: “What I would say is that we can now see that there is still quite a lot of sympathy in some circles to ISIS.

“They are separate from the group.

“So it gets very very hard for the intelligence organisations to actually crack these people down before it happens.

“If it is an organised group you can always get a spy to infiltrate and then you can undo them from the inside.

“It’s the lone wolf, the lone sympathisers, who are very hard for a government to crack them down and understand what they can do beforehand.”

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