Daesh runs secret cells in UK, Germany and Italy: Clapper

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper listens while appearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats to America and its allies, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, February 9, 2016. (AFP photo)

The Daesh (ISIL) terrorist organization is operating underground cells in Britain, Germany and Italy, and there is “evidence” they are plotting terror attacks against civilians in those countries, the US intelligence chief says.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Monday the terror cells are similar to the groups that carried out the attacks in Paris and Brussels and are currently engaged in secret activities, The New York Times reported.

“That is a concern, obviously, of ours and our European allies” Clapper told reporters at a breakfast meeting organized by The Christian Science Monitor. “We continue to see evidence of plotting on the part of ISIL in the countries you named.”

Daesh has previously threatened to attack the UK, Germany and Italy. However, Western intelligence experts say it is not known yet where the terrorists might strike next.

The deadly Paris attacks in November and the March assaults in Brussels have set off growing fears among American and European spy services, which in return have considerably ratcheted up intelligence sharing to prevent similar incidents.

People read messages on a commemorative wall at the Maelbeek metro station on its re-opening day on April 25, 2016 in Brussels, after being closed since the March 22 attacks in the Belgian capital. (AFP photo)

The United States has also stepped up intelligence cooperation with European allies and offered long-term structural fixes to help European officials share intelligence more effectively and to tighten their borders.

Former French intelligence officer Claude Moniquet told The Times that the UK and Germany were particularly concerned about a potential attack by Daesh affiliates.

Intelligence and counter-terrorism officials in France and Belgium have also indicated that they believe their countries could be hit again.

Clapper said Monday that since the attacks in Paris and Brussels, an overall picture of the terrorists’ presence in Europe has begun to emerge.

“We’ve learned that they are fanatic, very OPSEC conscious — meaning operational security conscious — they’re very mindful of that,” the spymaster said.

“They have taken advantage, to some extent, of the migrant crisis in Europe, something which the nations, I think, have a growing awareness of,” he added.

Clapper also maintained that Daesh operatives in Europe have become “very security conscious” and mindful of the “efforts mounted to monitor them.” 

For example, he said the terrorists have resorted to encrypted messaging in order to avoid detection. “From our standpoint, it’s not a good thing,” Clapper said.




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