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Intel Brief: What are the threats to the Euro 2024 in Germany and the Summer Olympics in France?



Date: 14/06/2024


Who’s involved:

  • Euro 2024, Paris Olympics 2024, ISIS, European security forces, Russian hacktivists, hooligans.









What happened?

  • The German police arrested a 23 year old man on 08/06/2024 who had applied to become a security guard at the Euro 2024. German authorities suspect the man wanted to commit a terrorist attack linked to ISIS.


  • On 31/05/2024, French police arrested a teenager suspected of planning a terror attack during the summer 2024 Olympics in Paris. The suspect is thought to have planned jihadi-inspired attacks on the Geoffroy-Guichard stadium, where football matches will be held. 


  • On 26/04/2024, another teenager was arrested in France after he posted on social media about his plan to die as a martyr at the Olympics. During searches at his house, several documents were found attesting his allegiance to the Islamic State.


  • In April 2024 the media outlet of the Islamic State in Khorasan, the Al-Azaim Foundation, called for attacks on major Champions League quarter-finals games to be held in European stadiums, including stadiums in London, Paris and Madrid. These calls were likely addressing lone wolves in European territory. The UK, France and Spain increased security at the venues to thwart any attack.


  • On 09/06/2024 ISIS propaganda was posted on several ISIS affiliated websites depicting a man controlling a drone that seems to be flying towards the Eiffel Tower carrying a bag that says “gift” on it. The tag-line was “Lone Wolves olympics have begun with the will of Allah.”


  • The Microsoft team that tracks hacker activities on the internet has recently unearthed several Russian backed hacktivist groups who have been sharing fake news about possible ISIS attacks on Germany and France, apparently in an attempt to scare the European population. Microsoft released an extensive report on the Russian hackers on 02/06/2024. Russia is not allowed to compete in the Euro Cup nor the Olympics and has a history of spreading disinformation to rattle the public.


  • The French authorities have increased their vigilance and have deployed thousands of police officers to guard the events. The opening of the Olympics, which will be done on the river Seine, will reduce the amount of spectators to 300.000 from the previous 600.000 in an attempt to get a better grip on the security situation. However, French officials have been publicly open to moving it to a closed stadium if a security crisis happens. 


  • Meanwhile, Germany is also increasing its security measures in an attempt to thwart violent hooligans from traveling to Germany. The country has also implemented a temporary reintroduction of border controls on all its borders to increase security. German authorities are specifically worried about a group of around 500 Serbian hooligans that are said to want to engage British hooligans. The UK has forced 1600 known hooligans to hand in their passports so they cannot travel to Germany.    

 

Analysis

  • The Euro 2024 and the Paris Olympics are likely targets for terrorist activities due to their mediatization, the presence of large groups of people and the symbolism of attacking such a high value target. However, possible attacks will be relatively low scale and will be conducted most likely by lone wolves, either inspired or affiliated with Islamist groups. It is highly unlikely that major attacks will happen as established terrorist organizations don’t have the capacity to carry out such attacks on EU soil. Moreover, security forces have been closely monitoring the situation for any potential terrorist threat and have already carried out preventive arrests. 


  • Russian disinformation tactics around the Euro 2024 and Olympics 2024 seem to be focused on sowing fear amongst people who want to attend these events. Governments and security forces will have to prepare for any scenario while dealing with such disinformation. However, it is likely that Russia is simply expanding its hacktivism and propaganda campaigns against the West as a response to their support for Ukraine, and it may be engaging in these online activities as a result of their exclusion from the sporting events.


  • Security forces around Europe have been on high alert since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas. The effects from this war have caused mass protests by pro-Palestine groups which have sometimes resulted in street clashes with the police. Other times, protestors have disrupted sporting events, concerts and other public meetings to convey their message. It is likely that protests will be seen at the Euro 2024 and the Olympics 2024, but the massive deployment of security forces will likely deter or stop any mass-action from happening. It is possible that Hamas supporters will try to organize a more violent event in an effort to get media attention. 


Conclusion

The Euro 2024 and the Olympics will certainly be prime targets for terrorist attacks by lone wolves inspired by jihadi terrorism, as it has already been proven by a few plans foiled by German and French authorities. However, security forces in both countries are already on alert and have increased security measures across their territory and especially around stadiums and other venues, including heightened border controls. While attempts at small attacks may still happen, it is highly unlikely that there will be a major attack as terrorist organizations lack the capacity to attack European soil.





20241006 Threats to Euro 2024 and Summer Olympics
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