Islamic State Threat in Europe Shifts
Some U.S. officials see terror group benefitting from smaller attacks while continuing to plotBy Julian E. Barnes in Brussels and Benoit Faucon in London, WSJ
July 28, 2016 1:08 p.m. ET
The mushrooming of small-scale terror attacks in Europe has allowed Islamic State and its adherents to keep people here on edge without having to train and equip teams to pull off highly sophisticated operations.
Indeed, some U.S. officials say they believe some of the simpler attacks on softer targets of the type seen recently will prove to have been directed by Islamic State, not just inspired by the group.
“We know there is a command and control structure behind some of these attacks,” said a U.S. official. “Islamic State has filled up the pipeline with militants in Europe.”
According to U.S. officials the smaller attacks may be designed to overwhelm law-enforcement and intelligence services—helping operatives planning a bigger attack to move around undetected.
U.S. military officials have insisted for months that the greater frequency of attacks in Europe is a response to the pressure Islamic State is feeling in Syria and Iraq as it has lost territory in its self-declared caliphate.
Other U.S. officials have dismissed that theory, however, noting that Islamic State’s plotting predates its recent losses. These officials said the frequency and scale of the recent attacks reflects Islamic State adapting to new obstacles.