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This map shows Islamic State's expanding reach across Europe

Calls to action in Europe have led to a number of successful attacks for the terrorist group this year.

AS ISLAMIC STATE loses ground in the Middle East, it has mounted attacks in Europe to convince the world of its strength, experts say.

But Islamic State activity in Europe hasn’t all been recent; the terrorist group (also known as ISIS, ISIL, and Daesh) has long had its sights set on Europe as a recruiting ground and target of attacks.

A map from the Institute for the Study of War tracks where the so-called Islamic State has hit, where its plots have been thwarted, where its supporters have been arrested, and where the group has targeted recruits.

The ISW notes that the group is “executing a campaign to terrorise and polarise Europe” and that the group has “inspired, resourced, and directed attempted and successful attacks in the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Turkey since January 2014.”

“ISIS aims to punish countries acting against it in Iraq and Syria,” ISW notes. “It also seeks to polarise the West by inspiring state and social backlash against European Muslim communities. ISIS believes increased cultural strife will destabilise Europe and encourage Muslims to join it in Iraq and Syria.”

Islamic State has an extensive network of recruiters and supporters throughout Europe. These recruiters operate on social media and through in-person meetings to persuade Westerners to migrate to IS territory in Iraq and Syria. It also releases propaganda aimed at Western audiences to encourage supporters to attack Europe and the US even without any communication with core ISIS leaders.

These calls to action have resulted in several successful attacks.

Here’s a look at the map, which notes Islamic State-coordinated attacks, IS-inspired attacks, IS targets, IS-linked arrests, heightened threat levels, and sources of foreign fighters who move to IS territory:

Source: Institute for the Study of War

Click here for larger version

The map shows the terrorist group has been particularly active with attacks in France and Turkey. France, Russia, Germany, and the UK serve as major sources of foreign fighters.

“ISIS will likely expand its efforts to direct and resource sophisticated terror attacks in Europe,” the ISW notes.

“ISIS used its high-ranking Belgian-Moroccan military commander Abdelhamid [Abaaoud] to coordinate multiple attack attempts in Belgium and France. ISIS may send similarly skilled individuals back to plan terror attacks there, or in other historic European jihadist systems, including Spain and Morocco, Italy and the Balkans, or the Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden.

Interconnected human networks in each of these systems may capitalise on inadequate intelligence sharing across European borders in order to plan and conduct attacks.”

Authorities have thwarted several alleged attack plots in the UK, France, Germany, and Turkey. France in particular has been on high alert lately after IS-affiliated attackers killed 130 people and injured hundreds more as they took hostages, detonated suicide vests, and shot dozens across Paris in November.

- Pamela Engel.

Read: Assad says Britain’s bombing campaign will only cause terrorism to spread>

Read: ‘They’re a death cult, we’re a life cult’ – Bono tells CNN the difference between Islamic State and U2>

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Business Insider
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