Giovanni Giacalone
Eyes everywhere

Anti-Jewish and anti-Israel activity spread in Europe

Pro-Houthi flag at the Palestinian demonstration in Milan on April 6th 2024 (Facebook Screenshot, used in accordance with Clause 27a of copyright law)

The Jewish communities in Europe are once again at risk of becoming targets of Hamas, Hezbollah, and other terrorist groups and cells active in the Old Continent, as well as by self-activated attackers receptive to extremist propaganda. The risks are evaluated as high and several Israeli embassies have closed down in the past days for security reasons, while Jewish sites are on high alert.

Earlier this past week, German media and AFP sources reported that Bulgarian police uncovered a stash of weapons linked to four alleged Hamas members arrested in Germany and Holland in December on suspicion of preparing an attack against Jewish targets in Europe.

The individuals in custody include Palestinians Abdelhamid Al A. and Ibrahim El-R., both born in Lebanon, as well as Egyptian Mohamed B. and Dutch national Nazih R.

Abdelhamid Al A. was in constant contact with Khalil Harraz, deputy commander of the Al-Qassam Brigades in Lebanon, where he was responsible for the organization’s overseas operations.

German prosecutors said the four men had been gathering weapons to be “kept in a state of readiness because of potential terrorist attacks against Jewish institutions in Europe”.

Three more individuals were also arrested in Denmark, as reported by AP. According to Der Spiegel, another deposit of weapons to be used by Hamas is said to be hidden in Polish territory, but it hasn’t been found yet.

In January 2024, after an extradition request by Israeli authorities, the Italian police arrested Yaeesh Anan, a Palestinian member of the al-Aqsa Brigades living in the city of L’Aquila, and two other Palestinians connected to him.

According to the investigations, the cell was planning terrorist attacks against Israeli targets and Anan had been constantly speaking to al-Aqsa chief commander Mounir al-Maqdah using WhatsApp.

In February 2024, the Italian Appeal Court of L’Aquila rejected the extradition to Israel of Anan, citing “inhuman conditions of Israeli prisons”. The individual remains in prison in Terni while Palestinian and left-wing formations in Italy have been demonstrating in his favor.

The German domestic intelligence agency warned in 2022 that Hamas sees Western countries such as Germany as a refuge in which the organization can concentrate on collecting donations, recruiting new supporters, and spreading its propaganda.

However, it is not just Germany, as Europe and the UK, in general, have become fertile ground for pro-Hamas propaganda, often disguised as pro-Palestinian and anti-Imperialist, with the support of the far-left formations.

The Propaganda

Anti-Israel and antisemite, as well as Islamist propaganda, continue to be disseminated throughout the Old Continent weekly.

For instance, in London, during a series of pro-Palestinian demonstrations, individuals were detained for yelling pro-Hamas slogans and for exhibiting a Khomeinist banner.

In Milan, on Saturday, March 30th, the leader of the Association of Palestinians in Italy, Mohammed Hannoun, called for revolts against the Israeli embassies in Arab countries, like the one that occurred this past week in Jordan. Additionally, he also praised the Houthi in Yemen.

As written on Il Giornale by journalist and war correspondent, Fausto Biloslavo: “The last sentences of March 30, which harangue the protesters about the targeted Israeli embassies, sound even more serious after the closure of the diplomatic headquarters of the Jewish State in Rome due to fears of attacks.

The following weekend, during the usual street demonstration in Milan with Hannoun as a speaker, a woman was pictured carrying a Yemeni flag with the writing “Yemen make us proud, turn another ship around”.

As if it wasn’t enough, during the first week of April, an individual approached the gate of the Jewish school of Milan and started to verbally abuse some attendees before being stopped and identified by security.

In the meantime, Pakistani preacher Zulfiqar Khan, used the pulpit of his mosque in Bologna to accuse the US administration and “the Zionists” of being “pedophiles” and asked “Allah” to “destroy the oppressors” (including the leaders of various Muslim countries such as Morocco, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan). Khan is already known for having stated that “The Israelites are terrorists and deceivers according to the Bible” and for glorifying “mujahideen and martyrs”, as exposed by Nicola Porro’s news site.

The threat to Israeli and Jewish targets originates from two different types of sources: the first one is related to terrorist organizations such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and al-Aqsa Brigades, which use their networks in Europe to plan attacks. An example is the bombing perpetrated by Hezbollah against a bus at Burgas Airport, Bulgaria, in July 2012.

The second type is more devious and deceitful as it uses the tool of hateful and incendiary speech perpetrated by individuals such as preachers and activists, who have a considerable number of followers. Such conduct can inflame hearts and minds, potentially pushing someone to move from theory to violent action. It is a mean that is far more spontaneous, without a structured approach, but it is certainly not less dangerous.

This type of modus operandi often hides behind the shield of “free speech”; however, this type of “free speech” turns into “hate speech” and terror propaganda. It can reach a vast audience, both on-site and through the web, generating potentially dangerous consequences and making it very difficult for security apparatuses to prevent attacks.

Attacks that can be perpetrated not only against Jewish and Israeli targets but also on Western ones as well. As recently explained by the Director of the think tank Islamic Theology of Counter-Terrorism-UK, Noor Dahri, during a conference on antisemitism held in Canada, “Hamas has turned into a global ideology…And the war is against the West.”

About the Author
Giovanni Giacalone is a senior analyst in Islamist extremism and terrorism at the Italian Team for Security, Terroristic Issues and Managing Emergencies-Catholic University of Milan, at the Europe desk for the UK-based think tank Islamic Theology of Counter-Terrorism, and a researcher for Centro Studi Machiavelli. Since 2021 he is the coordinator for the "Latin America group" at the International Institute for the Study of Security-ITSS. In 2023 Giacalone published the book “The Tablighi Jamaat in Europe”.
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