Radicals with the Islamic State are allegedly plotting terror attacks in the U.K. and other European countries on Christmas Day, according to a former ISIS bomb-maker turned MI6 agent.
Aimen Dean, who spent nearly a decade spying on the Islamist group before his cover was blown by a U.S. intelligence leak, claimed there are plots being drawn to launch revenge attacks following the October beheading of a French teacher who showed his students the 2015 Charlie Hebdo cartoons of the prophet Mohammad, which resulted in a terrorist attack at the magazine that left 12 people dead and 11 other injured.
The plans have been masterminded by Abu Omar al-Shishani, according to Dean. Shishani, a Georgian ISIS commander, was originally believed to have been killed during a U.S.-led air strike in 2016 but is now suspected to have survived his injuries, according to a British news report.
“I’m afraid I’m not bearing good news, but we need to be worried about the wave of terror that is coming from northern Syria and Libya for Christmas this year,” said Dean.
He added: “The worry is that, according to people who know him, [Shishani] is planning to avenge the prophet Mohammad cartoons in places like Germany, U.K., France, and all around Christmastime.”
Dean also suggested to The Sun the slight loosening of COVID-induced lockdowns and restrictions “has made it a more attractive timeframe for targeting.” He continued, “Already, they have been thinking about it, already they have been looking at it, and I feel this will be the next target.”
Since the collapse of the Islamic State caliphate, the majority of attacks have come from radicalized individuals inspired by ISIS propaganda.
The threat, though, seems just as serious. In November, according to NBC News, Britain moved to its second highest terror threat level — “severe” — which means intelligence agencies believe an attack is very likely, though there is no specific data revealing any particular target or the possible scope of the anticipated assault attempt.
Britain upped its terror threat level following attacks in Austria and France. Neil Basu, a senior British police officer and head of counter-terrorism policing, told citizens in early November they should expect to see an increase in police presence over the holidays.
“Now, more than ever, we need communities to stand together and reject those who seek to sow division and hatred between us,” he said at the time. “We need communities and families to bring to our attention anyone they perceive may be vulnerable, a danger, or escalating toward terrorism.”