Resources: mapping terrorism studies in Australia

I recently revisited this 2006 assessment of terrorism studies in Australia by Stuart Koschade, which got me thinking about where you could start if you were to assess the field today.

I’ve put together this list of articles from 2003 onwards by Australian-affiliated authors from the journals Studies in Conflict and Terrorism and Terrorism and Political Violence, traditionally considered the core terrorism journals.

To be included, the article must:

  1. Have been published in Studies in Conflict and Terrorism or Terrorism and Political Violence.
  2. Be published at any point from January 2003 (the metadata was less clearly presented for earlier articles and finding them became time-consuming).
  3. Have at least one author listed as affiliated with an Australian institution.
  4. Must be a full-length article, not a book review or a reply piece.

This is far from a comprehensive overview of the terrorism research coming out of Australia. The list excludes other terrorism studies journals such as Critical Studies on Terrorism, Perspectives on Terrorism, Behavioral Studies of Terrorism and Political Aggression, Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict, Democracy and Security and Policing, Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism. Also, lots of terrorism research is published in non-terrorism-specific journals (such as legal journals), in books, in government and think-tank reports, and elsewhere.

So there’s plenty of research by Australian authors missing here, such as the work of Leah Farrall. I may expand the list later on.

The articles are listed in reverse chronological order, and all are unfortunately paywalled.


Studies in Conflict and Terrorism

The Impact of Jihadist Foreign Fighters on Indigenous Secular-Nationalist Causes: Contrasting Chechnya and Syria

Ben Rich & Dara Conduit

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism (online-only version, pre final publication)


Neo-Jihadist Prosumers and Al Qaeda Single Narrative: The Case Study of Giuliano Delnevo

Matteo Vergani

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 37, Issue 7, July 2014, pages 604-617


Moral Disengagement and Building Resilience to Violent Extremism: An Education Intervention

Anne Aly, Elisabeth Taylor & Saul Karnovsky

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 37, Issue 4, April 2014, pages 369-385


Military Operations in Romanian Anti-Partisan Warfare, 1944–1958

Andrei Miroiu

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 37, Issue 2, February 2014, pages 185-197


The Roles of Women in Contemporary Political and Revolutionary Conflict: A Thematic Model

Lauren Vogel, Louise Porter & Mark Kebbell

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 37, Issue 1, January 2014, pages 91-114


Interviews With Canadian Radicals

Gaetano Joe Ilardi

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 36, Issue 9, September 2013, pages 713-738


Explaining a Turning Point in Australian Jihadism

Andrew Zammit

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 36, Issue 9, September 2013, pages 739-755


Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Anyone Who Gets in the Way: Lessons from a Comparative Analysis of U.S. Militias and Ulster Loyalists

Richard Reed

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 36, Issue 9, September 2013, pages 756-776


Examining the Role of Religion in Radicalization to Violent Islamist Extremism

Anne Aly & Jason-Leigh Striegher

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 35, Issue 12, December 2012, pages 849-862


Australian Neo-Jihadist Terrorism: Mapping the Network and Cell Analysis Using Wiretap Evidence

Shandon Harris-Hogan

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 35, Issue 4, April 2012, pages 298-314


Integration versus Segregation: A Preliminary Examination of Philippine Correctional Facilities for De-Radicalization

Clarke R. Jones & Resurrecion S. Morales

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 35, Issue 3, March 2012, pages 211-228


Negotiating Hostage Crises with the New Terrorists

Adam Dolnik & Keith M. Fitzgerald

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 34, Issue 4, March 2011, pages 267-294


Terror and the Liberal Conscience: Political Fiction and Jihad—The Novel Response to 9/11

David Martin Jones & M. L. R. Smith

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 33, Issue 10, September 2010, pages 933-948


The Enigma of Lone Wolf Terrorism: An Assessment

Ramón Spaaij

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 33, Issue 9, August 2010, pages 854-870


The Security Council’s Al Qaeda and Taliban Sanctions Regime: “Essential Tool” or Increasing Liability for the UN’s Counterterrorism Efforts?

Christopher Michaelsen

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 33, Issue 5, April 2010, pages 448-463


Fear, Anxiety and the State of Terror

Anne Aly & Lelia Green

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 33, Issue 3, February 2010, pages 268-281


A Missing Peace? The Role of Religious Actors in Countering Terrorism

Anna Halafoff & David Wright-Neville

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 32, Issue 11, October 2009, pages 921-932


Parallels Between Crime and Terrorism: A Social Psychological Perspective

Sam Mullins

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 32, Issue 9, September 2009, pages 811-830


We’re All Terrorists Now: Critical—or Hypocritical—Studies “on” Terrorism?

David Martin Jones & M. L. R. Smith

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 32, Issue 4, April 2009, pages 292-302


The “Lost Command” of Julhani Jillang: An Alliance from the Southwestern Philippines

Eduardo F. Ugarte

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 32, Issue 4, April 2009, pages 303-321


The 9/11 Attacks—A Study of Al Qaeda’s Use of Intelligence and Counterintelligence

Gaetano Joe Ilardi

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 32, Issue 3, March 2009, pages 171-187


Al Qaeda’s Operational Intelligence—A Key Prerequisite to Action

Gaetano Joe Ilardi

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 31, Issue 12, December 2008, pages 1072-1102


The Strategic Hub Concept: Plan C for Iraq?

Allan Orr

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 31, Issue 12, December 2008, pages 1055-1071


Confused Britannia: Global Uncertainty and Homeland Insecurity

David Martin Jones & M.L.R. Smith

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 31, Issue 6, June 2008, pages 572-580


The Alliance System of the Abu Sayyaf, 1993–2000

Eduardo F. Ugarte

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 31, Issue 2, February 2008, pages 125-144


A Crime–Terror Nexus? Thinking on Some of the Links between Terrorism and Criminality

Steven Hutchinson & Pat O’malley

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 30, Issue 12, November 2007, pages 1095-1107


Suicide Missions as Witnessing: Expansions, Contrasts

Michael Roberts

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 30, Issue 10, September 2007, pages 857-887


Responding to Systemic Crisis: The Case of Agroterrorism

Lesley Seebeck

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 30, Issue 8, July 2007, pages 691-721


Jihadist Beheading: A Convergence of Technology, Theology, and Teleology?

Pete Lentini & Muhammad Bakashmar

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 30, Issue 4, March 2007, pages 303-325


Terrorism, Security, and the Threat of Counterterrorism

Jessica Wolfendale

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 29, Issue 7, October 2006, pages 753-770


A Social Network Analysis of Jemaah Islamiyah: The Applications to Counterterrorism and Intelligence

Stuart Koschade

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 29, Issue 6, September 2006, pages 559-575


The Threat of Agroterrorism to Australia: A Preliminary Assessment

Carl Ungerer & Dallas Rogers

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 29, Issue 2, March 2006, pages 147-163


Re-Enchanting Terrorism: Jihadists as “Liminal Beings”

Arthur Saniotis

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 28, Issue 6, November 2005, pages 533-545


Tamil Tiger “Martyrs”: Regenerating Divine Potency?

Michael Roberts

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 28, Issue 6, November 2005, pages 493-514


Antiterrorism Legislation in Australia: A Proportionate Response to the Terrorist Threat?

Christopher Michaelsen

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 28, Issue 4, July 2005, pages 321-339


Burma’s Muslims and the War on Terror


Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 27, Issue 2, March 2004, pages 107-126


Looking for the Pattern: Al Qaeda in Southeast Asia–The Genealogy of a Terror Network


Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 26, Issue 6, November 2003, pages 443-457


The Almajiri Heritage and the Threat of Non-State Terrorism in Northern Nigeria–Lessons from Central Asia and Pakistan


Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 26, Issue 4, July 2003, pages 311-325


Terrorism and Political Violence

When Terrorism Goes to Sea: Terrorist Organizations and the Move to Maritime Targets

Victor Asal & Justin V. Hastings

Terrorism and Political Violence (online-only version, pre final publication)


Empirical Objections to Torture: A Critical Reply

Fritz Allhoff

Terrorism and Political Violence Volume 26, Issue 4, September 2014, pages 621-649


The Unseen Terrorist Connection: Exploring Jihadist Links Between Lebanon and Australia

Shandon Harris-Hogan & Andrew Zammit

Terrorism and Political Violence Volume 26, Issue 3, July 2014, pages 449-469


Target Hardening and Terrorist Signaling: The Case of Aviation Security

Justin V. Hastings & Ryan J. Chan

Terrorism and Political Violence Volume 25, Issue 5, November 2013, pages 777-797


“Global Jihad”: The Canadian Experience

Sam Mullins

Terrorism and Political Violence Volume 25, Issue 5, November 2013, pages 734-776


Islamist Terrorism and Australia: An Empirical Examination of the “Home-Grown” Threat

Sam Mullins

Terrorism and Political Violence Volume 23, Issue 2, March 2011, pages 254-285


Religion and Terrorism: Christian Fundamentalism and Extremism

Douglas Pratt

Terrorism and Political Violence Volume 22, Issue 3, June 2010, pages 438-456


Beyond Belief: Islamist Strategic Thinking and International Relations Theory

David Martin Jones & M. L. R. Smith

Terrorism and Political Violence Volume 22, Issue 2, March 2010, pages 242-266


Winning the Battles, Losing the War? An Assessment of Counterterrorism in Malaysia

Muhammad Bakashmar

Terrorism and Political Violence Volume 20, Issue 4, September 2008, pages 480-497


China’s “War on Terror” in Xinjiang: Human Security and the Causes of Violent Uighur Separatism

Michael Clarke

Terrorism and Political Violence Volume 20, Issue 2, April 2008, pages 271-301


Vigilantes on the High Seas?: The Sea Shepherds and Political Violence

Gerry Nagtzaam & Pete Lentini

Terrorism and Political Violence Volume 20, Issue 1, December 2007, pages 110-133


Public Support for Political Violence and Paramilitarism in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland

Bernadette C. Hayes & Ian McAllister

Terrorism and Political Violence Volume 17, Issue 4, December 2005, pages 599-617


Derogating from International Human Rights Obligations in the ‘War Against Terrorism’? — A British–Australian Perspective


Terrorism and Political Violence Volume 17, Issue 1-2, February 2005, pages 131-155


Terrorism, Engineering and the Environment: their Interrelationships

Michael C. Clarke

Terrorism and Political Violence Volume 16, Issue 2, January 2004, pages 294-304


Southeast Asia after 11 September

James Cotton

Terrorism and Political Violence Volume 15, Issue 1, March 2003, pages 148-170

On John Faulkner’s paper: Surveillance, Intelligence and Accountability

Australian Labor Party (ALP) backbencher John Faulkner has just published a paper: Surveillance, Intelligence and Accountability: an Australian Story. It gives a detailed history of Australian intelligence agencies, outlines problems with their oversight mechanisms, and proposes several reforms.

It’s a good paper and I’m quite excited by it. It comes as the Coalition Government is rushing three sets (or “tranches”) of extensive new national security legislation (some needed, some not) through Parliament, that increases the powers of security agencies and poses risks for press freedom.

This counter-terrorism approach had recieved largely uncritical support from the ALP. However, as the Saturday Paper recently reported, sections of the ALP are regretting this support and pushing back.

Anthony Albanese expressed worries about the reach of the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill’s impact on press freedom, though only after it had been passed. Shadow Attorney General Mark Dreyfus is calling for a greater oversight role by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) to keep a check on how the legislation is used. The PJCIS (a bipartisan committee, but one that contains three ALP shadow ministers: Wong, Plibersek and Conroy) also asserted a stronger role for itself in its response to the Counter Terrorism Legislation Amendment Foreign Fighters Bill (the Government’s second set of new national security legislation). Several Labor MPs are expressing concern about data retention, which will be the Government’s third set of national security legislation.

Faulkner’s proposed reforms the latest example of this discontent within the ALP.

Faulkner proposes eight reforms, summarised here, which include ways to improve current oversight mechanisms (the PJCIS, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security and the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor), shortening the sunset clauses on contentious legislation, and launching an independent review into accountability arrangements.

I would add a further point. Faulkner’s proposals mainly address oversight mechanisms, but another crucial element of accountability is transparency. The proposed review should not just examine oversight, but also address what scope there is for greater transparency. As I’ve argued before:

Intelligence agencies of course have to be more secretive than other parts of the public service, but Australia’s agencies have a level of secrecy that exceeds those in similar countries. For example, ASIO and other agencies have blanket 20–30 year exemptions from Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation, which the Australian Information Commissioner, John McMillan, currently opposes. In a submission to a review of FOI laws he pointed out that (PDF) in ‘other jurisdictions, including New Zealand and the United States, intelligence agencies are covered by FOI legislation’.

This difference allows journalists and academics in such other jurisdictions to obtain much more information about what their intelligence services do. For example, terrorism researcher J. M. Berger has written detailed accounts of the CIA’s investigations into al Qaeda from 1991 to 2003 and the FBI’s infiltration of far-right extremist groups (PDF) in the 1990s, based substantially on documents acquired through America’s FOI legislation. Comparable research into Australian agencies is almost impossible.

The problem goes beyond the intelligence services, as Australia generally has excessive secrecy on national security matters. For example, Australia’s military secrecy goes well beyond that of our allies. Lowy Military Fellow James Brown has noted (PDF) that Defence’s annual reports are ‘less transparent and detailed than similar defence reporting in the UK, US, Canada, and New Zealand’.

The limited transparency contributes to the lack of well-informed debate. Whenever a public controversy breaks out (such as on Julian Assange, Ben Zygier, Mamdouh Habib, possible spying on anti-coal activists, data retention proposals, and now whether Australia receives PRISM data), the lack of publicly available information means that neither side’s claims can be critically assessed. Instead, each side becomes entrenched in their positions, the media publish with what they have and move on, and much of the public remains indifferent.

So transparency, where feasible, also needs to be part of the discussion on intelligence accountability in Australia. Even so, Faulkner’s paper is one of the best contributions to this debate to come from a politician in years. Be sure to read it.

New article and some updates

Another quick post.

I have an article in the latest issue of CTC Sentinel, called New developments in Australian foreign fighter activity.

I’ve also been updating the List of alleged violent plots in Europe involving Syria returnees. I might add this event (which would make eight) but am waiting for some information that’s more solid.

We have another set of national security legislation before Parliament, the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill 2014.

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security is holding a (very short) inquiry on it. You can read the legislation, the submissions, and transcripts of hearings here. They will have a report out on 17 October.

Operation Pendennis, Abbott’s CT approach and law resources

I have two new articles out. One is a co-authored journal article in Perspectives On Terrorism, revisiting the terrorist plot foiled in 2005 by Operation Pendennis:

Operation Pendennis: A Case Study of an Australian Terrorist Plot
by Bart Schuurman, Shandon Harris-Hogan, Andrew Zammit and Pete Lentini

This Research Note article provides a case study of a major Australian terrorist investigation, code-named Operation Pendennis. Drawing primarily from publicly available court transcripts, this study seeks to expand upon the growing literature within terrorism studies which utilises primary source materials. Its aim is to provide a detailed overview of Operation Pendennis that might serve as a resource for other scholars. The work also aims to add to existing knowledge regarding how terrorists prepare their attacks and react when under surveillance. This is done by providing a descriptive account of two cells’ preparations for an act of terrorism, and their unsuccessful attempts to evade authorities.

The other is an opinion piece in The Age, published a fortnight ago:

Abbott’s haste to tackle home-grown terrorists carries grave risks
by Andrew Zammit

The threat posed by Australians in extremist groups in Syria and Iraq is being used to justify dramatic changes to national security legislation. The threat is very much real, but that does not make all the proposed new laws necessary or justified.

The opinion piece expresses my fears, which have only increased in the past few weeks, that counter-terrorism in Australia is heading in a bad direction and returning to some of the worst aspects of the Howard Government approach. It looks like several of the Abbott Government’s new laws will be harmful, unnecessary, and will complicate counter-terrorism efforts.

I say “looks like” because there’s not much detail on the new laws, particularly the most contentious ones like reversing the burden of proof for suspected returning fighters.

So I’m linking to some extra resources on the laws, following up from the last post.

There are three sets of proposed national security legislation. The previous post contained resources on the first set, the five background reports, and some commentary.

Since then, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security has been conducting a short inquiry on the first set. Submissions to the inquiry can be found here, and transcripts of the public hearings can be found here.

Much less information has been released on the second set, aside from a press release and this press conference transcript.

The third set will involve data retention. No detail has been released on the government’s current plans for that, but there’s good background info in this Parliamentary Library paper from October 2012.

Finally, the Parliamentary Library recently released this useful paper: Counter-terrorism and national security legislation reviews: a comparative overview.

Resources: Australia’s new national security legislation reforms

Another quick post. Here are some resources for the impending reforms to national security legislation.


1. The Parliamentary page for the first set of reforms, National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014, is here. There will reportedly be a second set of reforms a few months later.

The key documents on that page are the bill itself and the explanatory memorandum.


2. Some commentary on the bill:

Bernard Keane, “Brandis’ national security bill a concern for whistleblowers, journalists“, Crikey, 17 July 2014 (currently paywalled).

Rebecca Ananian-Welsh, “National security bill gives ASIO more powers and a tighter gag“, The Conversation, 17 July 2014.

Cameron Stewart, “Security laws must be updated“, The Australian, 19 July 2014.


3. Five reports recommending national security legislation reform (the current bill is based heavily on the Joint Committee report, but the second set of reforms will apparently be partly based on the Independent Monitor reports and presumably the COAG one too):

Independent National Security Legislation Monitor – annual report 28th March 2014
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC)
18 June 2014

Independent National Security Legislation Monitor – declassified annual report 20th December 2012
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC)
14 May 2013

Council of Australian Governments review of counter-terrorism legislation
Council of Australian Governments (COAG)
14 May 2013

Report of the inquiry into potential reforms of Australia’s national security legislation
Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS)
24 June 2013

Independent National Security Legislation Monitor – annual report 7th November 2013
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC)
12 December 2013


4. On Friday the Parliamentary Library published two lists of useful web links, one on national security and the other on crime and law enforcement.

Parliamentary discussion on foreign fighters, data retention, the INSLM, Musa Cerantonio and Chris Berg

Yesterday the federal parliament had a 40-minute discussion on terrorism. It begun with a motion that dual nationals fighting with jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq should have their citizenship revoked, but then went off in a few other directions.

The Hansard transcript is available here but I’ve pasted the relevant section below.

Continue reading

List of alleged violent plots in Europe involving Syria returnees

Governments throughout Europe have expressed fears that foreign fighters in Syria will return to their home countries as committed terrorists with deadly skills and violent intent. How plausible these fears are has been subject to debate.

My view is that the fears are well-founded, and that we should no longer be asking whether any European fighters in Syria will return to attempt terrorist attacks, but how many currently have.

To help keep track of open-source information on this, this post provides a list of alleged violent plots in Europe involving people who had joined jihadist groups in Syria.

I plan to regularly update the list as more incidents occur, or as more information on these incidents comes out, and may expand the list to include Australia and North America if plots occur there.

To be included in this list, the incident must meet the following criteria: 1. It must involve at least one person who has allegedly returned from fighting with jihadist groups in Syria. 2. It must involve violence or an alleged plan for violence. Simple threats of violence are not included. 3. The violence must have occurred, or been intended to occur, in Europe. This means the many cases of people charged for having fought in Syria, attempting to fight, or supporting fighters, are not included, even if they make some references to wanting to carry out violence in Europe. Also not included is the kidnapping and abuse of European journalists in Syria by British jihadists. 4. The violence or allegedly planned violence must have an apparent ideological motivation. If a returning fighter was to assault someone over an unrelated dispute, it would not be included.

The publicly available evidence for each of these cases varies, and none have seen completed trials. This means that none can be considered definitive, although the Nemmouche case in Belgium looks strong.

For those interested in more information on the Syria blowback, I recommend these articles by Lisa Lundquist and Raff Pantucci, which were useful for this post. Finally, please suggest any incidents I may have missed which meet the above criteria.


List of alleged violent plots in Europe involving Syria returnees:


  1. October 2013: UK police arrested four men and charged them with terrorism offences. They were accused of planning a “Mumbai-style plot” in London, meaning a sophisticated mass shooting of civilians. The men had reportedly returned from Syria, and may have met there. UK authorities have kept a tight hold on information about the case.


  1. November 2013: Police in Kosovo arrested six terror suspects they accused of planning an attack, while a seventh remains at large. Authorities said they had been monitoring the suspected cell for over three months, had gathered evidence through video surveillance, phone tapping, and email monitoring, and had seized firearms and material for making explosives. Two of the suspects, had allegedly fought alongside Syrian jihadists, possibly Jabhat al-Nusra.


  1. March 2014: French police claimed to have foiled an “imminent” terror attack planned on the French Riviera. Earlier in the year, Italian police had arrested, and extradited to France, a 23-year old man who had returned from Syria. He was allegedly caught with soda cans filled with explosives, nails, nuts and bolts. He was also allegedly linked to the Cannes-Torcy cell, which was suspected of planning a grenade attack on a Jewish business in September 2012.


  1. May 2014: Dutch police arrested a 21-year-old man who fought in Syria and was allegedly about to commit armed robbery “to finance jihad”. He faces charges of planning a terrorist attack and illegal firearms possession.


  1. May 2014: A gunman murdered four people near the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels. On 30 May a 29-year old Frenchman named Mehdi Nemmouche was caught, reportedly with guns, ammunition, and a video claiming responsibility for the attack. Nemmouche had also allegedly fought in Syria, with the former al-Qaeda affiliate the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). If the allegations prove true, these are the first deaths to occur in a Europe as a result of the foreign fighter flow into Syria.


  1. June 2014: Police in Kosovo arrested three men and charged them with terrorism offences, reportedly involving planned “suicide attacks targeting mass gathering places in order to cause widespread bloodshed and casualties”. The three men had allegedly been recruited by ISIS.


  1. July 2014: A Norwegian police statement said “We also have information indicating that a terrorist action against Norway is planned to be carried out shortly — probably in a few days.” The threat was treated very seriously, with security boosted at potential targets across the country. The plot reportedly involved four ISIS members who left Syria with intentions to attack in Norway or elsewhere in Europe. No one has been charged, but given that there are specific suspects and how seriously the threat was taken, the four suspects would certainly be charged if they were caught.


Update 1: This post initially said that the names for the terror suspects in Plot 1 had not been released. However their names had actually been released following a High Court decision earlier this month , though most of the trial will remain secret. In Plot 3 I initially said the suspect was arrested by French police, but he was actually arrested by Italian police in January and extradited to France. I fixed these errors on 30 June 2014, thanks to Raffaello Pantucci for pointing them out.

Update 2: This post initially included the following incident:

June 2014: French police arrested four citizens, two of which had allegedly returned from Syria. They were wanted for “questioning by an anti-terrorism judge for alleged criminal association in view of preparing a terror act”. I have not found any further information, such as what groups in Syria they may have been involved with.

However, Timothy Holman alerted me that it may not meet Criteria 3 (that the planned violent action must be in Europe).

In the French press sources I have the arrests are related to a foreign fighter facilitation network based in Nimes that may have sent up to 20 persons to Syria.

See for example,1010853.php or

I agree that the use of the term in the English article “It said the four were wanted for questioning by an anti-terrorism judge for alleged criminal association in view of preparing a terror act, without specifying.” suggests a terrorist act but the articles in English and French do not designate a target, nor method of attack etc. In Le Monde, it states, “association de malfaiteurs en vue de préparer des actes de terrorisme” without giving details of attack planning but writing about the number of persons sent to Syria.

I have removed this incident from the list (on 30 June 2014) for now, hopefully more information will come out that clears it up.

Update 3: Added the alleged Norway plot on 22 September 2014.

Update 4: (also on 22 September 2014) I’ve come across three other possible alleged plots, but the information is too thin to conclude they meet the four criteria for inclusion. If any of you have information on the following three incidents, please let me know.

  1. February 2013: An assassination attempt occurred against Danish journalist and Dispatch International editor Lars Hedegaard.  The man arrested over it has reportedly fought in Syria. However, from what I can tell his reported involvement with Syrian extremist groups occurred after the assassination attempt, so it may not meet criteria 1.
  2. August 2014: A French-Moroccan suspected jihadist was detained at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, as part of investigation into a possible “conspiracy to plan terrorist acts”. It’s not clear if he was ever charged.
  3. September 2014: Media reports suggest a Dutch couple who had fought in Syria were arrested in Belgium, possibly for plotting an attack on the Berlaymont building, which houses the European Union’s Brussels offices. It does not look like anyone has yet been charged.