What is the current state of terrorism in the world?
Radical Islamist terrorism remains a major threat internationally, and the danger of extreme right-wing terrorism has grown in Western countries.
Radical Islamist terrorism remains the most important terrorist threat internationally. The most significant threats to Europe are the terrorist organisations ISIL (also known as ISIS) and al-Qaeda, and operators associated with them.
The threat of extreme right-wing terrorism has grown in Western countries, as evidenced in the proliferation of serious, large-scale strike projects with the most important threat coming from lone operators.
Terrorism based on other ideologies is characteristically much more local. Extreme left-wing terrorism targeting public authorities, banks and national interests is mainly confined to southern European countries.
Separatist and ethno-nationalist terrorist operations are found in many countries around the world, but have no impact on Finland’s national security.
Foreign terrorist fighters are a major challenge for Europe
The conflict in Syria and Iraq gave a powerful boost to radical Islamist networks in Europe, with more than 5,000 foreign terrorist fighters (FTF) from Europe travelling to the region to join the ranks of ISIL and Al-Qaeda in the 2010s.
Foreign terrorist fighters returning from the conflict zone and domestic radicalisation in prison and elsewhere help to sustain the threat of terrorism.
Radical Islamist terrorist organisations have inspired individual supporters and small groups to launch attacks in Europe. Though most attacks have been unsophisticated, perpetrators remain interested in more complex methods.
Besides radical Islamists, the far right also poses a terrorist threat in Europe. This threat comes from lone operators and small groups in particular, inspired by propaganda shared in the far-right online environment and by past attacks.
While acts of violence typically target religious and ethnic minorities, potential targets also include politicians or other individuals identified as political opponents. The far right is particularly interested in the use of firearms and explosives.
Instability makes room for terrorism in the Middle East
Sustained conflicts, political instability and a lack of vision make the Middle East fertile soil for violent religious extremism. These root causes are still unresolved.
Syria and Iraq in particular have become a core area for radical Islamist terrorism and for terrorist organisations such as ISIL and al-Qaeda.
Years of war and regime weakness in Yemen have enabled radical Islamist terrorist organisations to operate in the country. While the operations of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and of ISIL in a province of Yemen remain largely local, they both seek to attack the regional administration and Western interests.
Radical Islamist operators have strengthened their presence in Africa
Radical Islamist terrorism constitutes a major security challenge in North Africa, the Sahel and East Africa, and also threatens to spread to other regions on the African continent. The greatest threat comes from ISIL and Al-Qaeda, and from smaller terrorist groups that identify with them.
Terrorist activity has increased rapidly in part of the Sahel with several large-scale attacks. The principal terrorist group in East Africa remains al-Shabaab, the regional branch of Al-Qaeda, with the Libyan war also providing a breeding ground for many radical operators.
North Africa in particular has been one of the most important departure points for foreign terrorist fighters in various conflicts.
The foreign terrorist fighter phenomenon has also affected several Asian countries
Al-Qaeda and – to a lesser extent – ISIL are both active in Afghanistan and Pakistan. These groups are generating propaganda that specifically seeks to raise their profile in Asia.
Several terrorist organisations operate in South and Southeast Asia, mostly under a common radical Islamist ideology. Southeast and Central Asia have been key points of departure for the foreign terrorist fighter phenomenon directed at Syria and Iraq.