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London Attack Echoes, Faintly, in a Europe Anxious but Inured

But the rhetoric in and around Europe remains generally incendiary, as the problems facing it loom. Just hours before the London attack, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey issued a strange warning to the Western nations that have criticized his rule.

“If you go on behaving like that, tomorrow nowhere in the world, none of the Europeans, Westerners would be able to walk in the streets in peace, safely,” he said.

It’s hard to know what he meant, but he has repeatedly threatened to renege on a deal with Brussels under which he has restrained the flow of Middle Eastern migrants to Europe.

That migration, sometimes erroneously, sometimes not, has been linked to prominent terrorist attacks in European capitals, which have been interspersed with numerous others much more minor in smaller towns and cities, including in Germany and France.

Many attackers, like Khalid Masood, 52, who had a long criminal history but no terrorism convictions, have been homegrown, if influenced from abroad, particularly by the Islamic State. Certainly the group, which called Mr. Masood, the London attacker, one of its soldiers, has been interested in staging an attack in Britain for at least the past two years.

One of the phones used by Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the Islamic State’s on-the-ground coordinator of the 2015 attacks in and around Paris, contained photographs of a trip to England, according to Claude Moniquet, a Belgium-based former French intelligence official.

Among the photographs were shots of Birmingham, London and one other city. “He had photos of Canary Wharf, the Thames and nightclubs and bars,” said Mr. Moniquet, who still works closely with European intelligence agencies on various cases.

Mr. Abaaoud is believed to have met with people in England and met or traveled there with Mohammed Abrini, who is now in prison in France, after surviving the Paris and Brussels attacks.

“We know that for the last year, they have invited people to act where they are,” Mr. Moniquet said of the Islamic State.

Source: NYT > World

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