Europol statistics show that there have been seven times more left-wing and anarchist terrorist attacks, than right-wing terrorist attacks, in the EU over the past decade.
A review of the last ten years of data from Europol’s EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report (TE-SAT) shows that, between 2011 and 2022, 227 left-wing and anarchist terrorist attacks were either completed, foiled, or failed. In the same period 32 right-wing terrorist attacks were either completed, foiled, or failed. 519 arrests were made in relation to left-wing and anarchist terrorism, with 257 arrests made in relation to right-wing terrorism, over that period.
A key finding of the 2022 TE-SAT is that “there is growing concern about an increased propensity for violence within the left-wing and anarchist extremist scene.” The report notes that this increased tendency towards violence was “particularly visible in cases of unprovoked violence against right-wing extremists, as well as police forces, during otherwise peaceful demonstrations, such as those against government measures to contain COVID-19.” The 2022 TE-SET notes that extreme left-wing circles on social media have, in recent years, begun disseminating manuals “containing detailed instructions on explosives.”
The report highlights the “surveillance and targeting of victims by small clandestine groups” as an example of how “violence can take a more organised form and may be integrated in the strategies of left-wing extremists and terrorists. The report warns that left-wing and anarchist groups have become increasingly fond of “doxing” their opponents – releasing “private addresses and other personal or sensitive data” about their political opponents, or public servants. This behaviour, the TE-SAT stats, constitutes “a considerable threat to the victims and their families” as it may “inspire left-wing and anarchist extremists to physically attack or threaten the concerned individuals or damage their property.” The report highlights one instance in which anarchists marched with a banner which displayed the name of the head of the local police centre for counter-terrorism, and referenced a prominent murder which had been previously carried out by a left-wing terrorist group, leading the flag to be viewed as a threat on that officer’s life.
In general, the reports say that anarchist groups, who often label themselves as Antifa, are more violent than other groups on the far-left. Anarchist terrorist groups are noted as being particularly fond of the usage of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and for their targeting of groups “they traditionally consider as enemies…the police, the judiciary, the (far) right-wing parties and the media.” The 2019 TE-SET notes that in November of 2018 anarchists placed an IED outside the house of a high-ranking public prosecutor in Athens – the device failed to explode. The deliberate targeting of figures involved with the judicial system is a consistent theme in left-wing and anarchist terrorism.
The reports also details an attack in August of 2018 in which an anarchist group attacked a building operated by the Italian political party Lega. The reports say that two IEDs were placed around the location, with one “scheduled to explode after the arrival of the first responding officers.” The report said that the placement and scheduling indicate that the anarchist group behind the attack intended for the device to “cause fatalities among the police.”
The report notes the strong international connections between anarchist and far-left groups, and that the groups are fond of using physical locations, such as sports clubs, youth centres, and demonstrations to disseminate “offline propaganda.” The tendency of far-left groups to attach themselves to public events, which they are not formally involved with and play no part in organising, in order recruit attendees to their cause, is also noted.
The reports define terrorist acts as “intentional acts which, given their nature or context, may seriously damage a country or an international organisation when committed with the aim of: seriously intimidating a population, or unduly compelling a government or international organisation to perform or abstain from performing an act, or seriously destabilising or destroying the fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social structures of a country or an international organisation.”