The world was shocked.
The attacks on 11 September 2001 were an eye opener as to how sophisticated, and evil, the enemies of the democratic world can be. We were faced with the fact that mass casualties and the highest possible shock factor was a goal in itself for those who were behind the horrific events 10 years ago.
Today we honour the memories of those who lost their lives on that day, as well as the families and others affected by the attacks, including the first responders and those who assisted in the rescue work.
Since these tragic events, security checks have become more routine in our everyday life. Sadly, we must live with this and accept a higher level of preventive measures compared to what we have been used to. However it is still important that we find the right balance between safeguarding and imposing heavy control and security measures on citizens. Freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law must still be our guiding principles. It is by adhering to these principles that we have built strong and open societies, in which all people have equal rights and opportunities, regardless of race, gender, religion or social standing.
During the last 10 years, Europol and our law enforcement colleagues from all over the world have become better equipped in dealing with terrorism, but the threat is still there. This threat of terror is global and can come in many guises. It can take the form of terrorist cells affiliated to Al Qaeda or it can be a weird loner who wants to change the world with a depraved wish of leaving an ugly footprint in history.
In the last decade, numerous terrorist attempts have been foiled due to high quality work of intelligence and law enforcement authorities. More attempts will be made in the future and terrorists will continue to lure others into extremism and terrorism via their propaganda, so we must all remain alert and aware of the risks, whilst not allowing terrorists to paralyse us and our society. Recent years have shown that terrorism has not, and will not, undermine our way of life.
Counter terrorism has an important place in Europol’s tasks and responsibilities. Our skilled analysts help their colleagues in EU Member States to analyse and disseminate intelligence so that they can stay ahead of emerging threats. Our main focus is on helping to protect EU citizens but, through working with our cooperation partners, we can also be aware of threats posed towards Europeans living on other continents. Europol assists these cooperation partners with the storage, analysis and the exchange of data via a secure intelligence network. Europol also publishes the TE-SAT report (EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report) on a yearly basis, which provides law enforcement officials, policymakers and the general public with facts, figures and trends relating to terrorism in the EU.
With heavy hearts we remember the senseless acts of terrorism that have killed thousands of people throughout the world – as recently seen in Norway, as well as in the United States, Morocco, London, Pakistan, Bali, Madrid, Mumbai, Kampala and many other places.