Europe still threatened by terror groups: Europol boss

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Terror groups continue to threaten Europe and are now diversifying to use the Internet as a major tool to attack the continent, Europol chief Rob Wainwright said Friday.

Speaking at the opening of Europol's new Hague-based offices, Wainwright said even though there had been no further attacks on the continent and in Britain since 2004 and 2005, it did not mean more were not being planned.

"We know that these groups remain active. We know that they continue to have the intention to mount major attacks in Europe," Wainwright told journalists after a three-day convention pulling together some 40 police chiefs and 300 law enforcement officers.

"The threat is still there and it is very important that we remain very much aware of that. As a law enforcement community and policy makers we have to make sure that we remain alert," Wainwright said.

He said Europol was concerned about growing links between organised crime and terror groups and that there was evidence for instance in parts of Africa, that terror groups and and criminals were using the same methods.

The European police authority was focusing strongly on the growth of cybercrime and the use of the Internet as a tool to commit terror, he said.

"More and more we are concerned about the impact of Internet and mobile technology as a primary facilitator."

"We're concerned to the extent to which terrorists might seek to exploit or use the Internet as a weapon to attack the critical mass of infrastructure of member states," he said.

Debates over the last three days at Europol's convention centred on future policies to fight crime and terror in the EU's 27 member states, Europol said in a statement, at a time when law enforcement was faced with serious budget cuts.

Delegates agreed a more creative approach was needed to fight crime and terror and called for the strengthening of asset recovery and financial investigation capabilities as important tools to stop criminal profits.

Some 191 people were killed in the March 2004 Madrid train bombings, while 52 commuters and four Islamist suicide bombers died in the July 7, 2005, London bomb attacks.

© 2011 AFP

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