EU report indicates terror attacks aided via security failings

A leaked report by the European commission’s security union taskforce, obtained by the Guardian, which examines the terror attacks in Berlin, Paris and Brussels has warned of holes in the ability of the security services to monitor movements in and out of Europe.

The taskforce noted that those who committed or sought to commit large-scale terror attacks had entered the EU borders ’at some point prior to committing their attacks’ with some EU citizens subject to a European arrest warrant able to enter or leave freely ‘without being detected due to the non-systematic check of EU citizens’.

Under the current system, it is also impossible for cross-national databases to be searched using biometric data, such as fingerprints. However, the report warned that the Schengen Border Code ‘did not allow for the systematic consultation’ of national and international databases, leaving the security services unable to carry out basic checks that could have avoided the subsequent attacks which took place.

It explained: “Another shared aspect of many of the recent attacks is movement within the EU, be it by the perpetrators or their supporters in preparation for an attack or subsequent escape; or to traffic the means that support terrorists, such as illegal firearms and explosives.

“This raises the question of whether more can be done to enhance security within the Schengen area. This could include action to enhance police checks in internal border regions and along main transport routes.”

“A further common element between recent attacks is the appearance of many of the suspects on surveillance lists, especially national watch lists. In a number of cases, perpetrators were subject to SIS [Schengen informaton system] alerts, which are an important tool in the detection of suspected terrorists.

“The number of alerts has significantly increased in the last two years, but there remain differences between the way in which member states use the system, including a lack of consistency in the use of SIS alerts. Should an obligation for information sharing be introduced for all existing EU security databases? Should those databases be searchable by biometric as well as alphanumeric data?”

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