There is a "real risk" of increased funding for attacks in Europe as the Daesh terrorist group loses ground in Iraq and Syria, the EU's security chief warned.
"As we have success against Daesh on the ground in Iraq and Syria, they are moving funds out of Iraq and Syria," Julian King told the civil liberties committee in the European Parliament.
"There is a real risk of a new influx of funding for terrorism. We need to be conscious of that and we need to work together to see what we can do about it," he added.
Last month, a U.N. report said that Daesh was continuing to send remittances abroad, often small sums, making them difficult to detect, as part of a bid to step up its international efforts "as demonstrated by the higher pace of attacks in Europe." The report said funding sources were still based on oil profits and the imposition of taxes on local populations in the areas under its control. However, it said the financial situation of the Daesh "core continues to deteriorate," mainly due to military pressure on the group.
King said the EU is also stepping up efforts to "respond to the unprecedented scale and speed of radicalization that we now face in our societies," including online and offline.
Daesh has lost an estimated 90 percent of its territory in Iraq. At one time, the group held around half of Syria, but today controls just 15 percent, according to estimates.
European counterterror networks are worried that Daesh losing ground in Syria and Iraq increases the risk of suicide bombers heading to Europe. Global police agency Interpol has compiled a list of 173 suspected Daesh terrorists believed to have been trained to commit suicide attacks, according to German newspaper Die Welt. It was reported that 132 people on the list were from Iraq, North Africa, Gulf states, Tajikistan and Bangladesh. Six people on the list are said to be European citizens coming from Germany, Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Bosnia.
In the last two or three years, EU member states have been hit by an increasing number of attacks claimed by Daesh which have taken place in Spain, Britain, France, Belgium, and Germany. Over the past two years, the Daesh terrorist group has killed 300 people across Europe, signaling that European countries have become more vulnerable to attacks carried out by militant groups.
The deadliest incident recorded in Western Europe was the series of coordinated attacks on Paris in November 2015 that resulted in the deaths of 130 people and was claimed by Daesh terrorists. Experts said Daesh, responsible for seven of the 10 deadliest attacks since 2012, was increasingly encouraging the use of knives and vehicles over firearms and explosives by their followers.
The number of terrorist attacks resulting in fatalities in Western Europe increased in 2016, despite an overall drop in the number of incidents taking place, according to data released by the Global Terrorism Database. The data shows that there were 30 such attacks resulting in fatalities in western Europe in 2016 and 23 in 2015. This compares with two attacks across the region resulting in fatalities in 2014 and five in 2013. In addition, terrorist attacks have become more deadly, with 26.5 people on average being killed in 2015 and 2016, up from an average of four a year in the preceding three years.