ARGUMENT: JIHADIST TERRORISM THREATThe Israel-Hamas War and Resurgent Jihadist Threats to Europe and the United States

Published 21 February 2024

The Hamas attack on Oct. 7, 2023, and the Israeli response have had dangerous echoes around the world. Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and unaffiliated terrorists have seized on the attacks in their propaganda and to conduct, or attempt to conduct, attacks.

The ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict has intensified tensions across the Middle East and added to the existing jihadist threat, with potential repercussions extending to Europe and the West. Peter Smith and Lucas Webber write in Lawfare thatthe rhetoric, failed plots, and successful attacks attributed to Hamas, al-Qaeda, and the Islamic State since Oct. 7 demonstrate the ongoing potential for violence spurred on by the fighting in Gaza.

They continue:

Hamas’s attack on Israel is the most devastating single day in the Jewish state’s history. After knocking out security cameras and automated machine guns and barraging the border with rockets, gunmen surged into Israel, killing around 1,200 people and taking 240 more captive. Hamas has received a boost in popular support since Oct. 7, after which even groups like al-Qaeda, which typically have been hesitant to direct praise toward Hamas, have acknowledged the significance of the attack. In addition to the deaths Hamas inflicted on Israel, the staggering number of Palestinian deaths, including many children, from the Israeli response, is also causing widespread anger. The mounting devastation and death toll are an open wound for Hamas’s supporters in the West, leading to a spate of plots and attacks in response.

In December, four men alleged to be Hamas members were arrested in Germany and the Netherlands. Two Lebanese and one Egyptian citizen were arrested in Berlin, according to German prosecutors, for planning to attack Jewish sites across Europe. Previously, the same cell had been tasked with establishing a weapons cache for Hamas in Europe. The fourth man, a Dutch national, was taken into custody in Rotterdam. Authorities said the men “have been members of Hamas for years and participated in foreign operations,” specifically working with the military wing of Hamas, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades. A statement from the Israeli prime minister’s office claimed that Israeli intelligence had linked the German and Dutch arrests to a plot to attack the Israeli Embassy in Sweden, as well as “the acquisition of UAVs and the use of elements from criminal organizations in Europe.”