The Europol police agency has issued a new report alerting EU citizens to the threats posed by Islamic State militants who are plotting attacks in Europe, and could use tactics such as car bombs, kidnappings and extortion.
"The last two years have seen a number of jihadist attacks, several of which have caused mass casualties. The scale of this threat has been widely acknowledged in Europe, triggering an intensified cooperation between police and security services across the continent leading to an increase of arrests and plots foiled before terror attacks could be carried out," Europol's Director Rob Wainwright said in a statement released on Friday.
He added that cooperation and exchange of data between Europe's relevant services is vital when it comes to mitigating the threats posed by the Islamic radicals.
Europol listed a series of key points about the IS threat in Europe, and warned that potential attacks might come both by lone actors and from groups. It added that all EU member states that assist the U.S.-led coalition against IS in Iraq and Syria could be targeted, and said the terrorists might use car bombs, extortion and kidnappings.
The report noted that IS isn't specifically interested in targeting infrastructure, such as power grids and nuclear facilities, but in attacking "soft targets" where security is not very high.
What is more, Europol alerted citizens to the fact that IS isn't the only terror group with the intent and ability to attack nations in the West, and said that al-Qaeda and al-Nusra affiliated or inspired groups and individuals are also a threat.
"We have to be vigilant, since the threat posed by the so-called Islamic State and returning foreign fighters is likely to persist in the coming years. These people are trained to use explosives and firearms and they have been indoctrinated by the jihadist ideology," added Gilles de Kerchove, EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator.
"An effective response requires a comprehensive approach and long term commitment. Of course, the primary responsibility in the fight against terrorism lies with the member states. However, the EU and its agencies such as Europol can and should play a supportive role that helps respond to the cross-border nature of the threat."
The European police agency's warning comes less that two weeks after the U.S. State Department issued its own alert, reporting that there is "credible information" that IS is planning attacks in Europe during the Christmas season.
The alert stated that terror groups are specifically looking to target the upcoming holiday season and associated events.
"U.S. citizens should also be alert to the possibility that extremist sympathizers or self-radicalized extremists may conduct attacks during this period with little or no warning. Terrorists may employ a wide variety of tactics, using both conventional and non-conventional weapons and targeting both official and private interests," the State Department warned.