In Italy there would be Isis cells similar to the ones that struck Paris and Brussels. The warning, which concerns also UK and Germany, was given by the Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper. Answering a question (put by a New York Times reporter) on whether the Daesh is engaged in clandestine activities in those countries, Clapper said yes and stressed that this is a matter of concern “for us and for our European allies.” “We continue to find evidence of Is complots in the countries you have mentioned.”
Clapper – who spoke during a breakfast meeting with a group of journalists, organized by The Christian Science Monitor – is among the highest-ranking Western officials who have publicly acknowledge the extensive scope of Is presence in Europe, object of growing concern for the intelligence services and both US and European strategists. Of course, Western experts point out that they are not able to predict the place where a future attack may happen.
Indications similar to the ones divulged by Clapper were given also by counterterrorism officials in Europe. The latter claim to have received information from multiple sources on the fact that the European Is networks would have set its sights on Britain, Germany, Italy and perhaps other countries. Meanwhile, information from the Islamic State itself, which often signals its intentions through threats, hence from suspects, wiretapping, and emails. According to Claude Moniquet, a former French intelligence official who has been closely following the events of terrorism, Britain and Germany are particularly worried about the risk of an attack. The same can be said about France and Belgium.
Moniquet believes that among the factors that are useful to calculate risk, there is also the number of people available to the self-styled Islamic State in a given country: to get an idea of how high it is, we must consider how many jihadists left from there to fight in Iraq and Syria, are planning to do so, or have already returned from the front. All of them are potential Isis agents in given country. We do not know how many of them have returned to Europe, but it is estimated that the number is somewhere between 20 and 30 percent of those who draw near to the Islamic extremism and to the idea of fighting in its name in every single country.
Italy’s presence – considering that it has less fighters in the Middle East – on the list of countries Isis might want to strike is more difficult to explain,” even if it is very often mentioned as a possible target,” the newspaper reads, citing French Senator Nathalie Goulet. One of the hypotheses, according to the senator who has co-directed a study commission on European foreign fighters, is that Italy might be a target because of the Pope’s presence there. However, the article concludes, potential threat in Britain is the most frequently mentioned.