Security forces across Western Europe have been rounding up terror suspects during the month of December as concerns grow over the possibility of a holiday-timed attack after intel suggested that there may be plans for attacks in a number of countries.
Dozens of suspects have been arrested in recent weeks in the United Kingdom, France, Germany and other countries. It’s seen as a pre-emptive strike by law-enforcement officials hoping to avoid the worst-case scenario.
“It’s like the broken windows approach that we have seen here in the U.S.,” Scott Stewart, vice president of tactical analysis for global intelligence firm Stratfor, told FoxNews.com. “It’s common after attacks like we saw in Nice and Brussels to see them round up the usual suspects.”
Since the beginning of December, nearly 30 people have been arrested for alleged involvement in terrorist activities. On Monday, 11 people were arrested in France in connection with the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice. In an unrelated incident, authorities in the UK arrested six people on suspicion of preparing to launch a terrorist attack.
Just two days earlier, authorities in France also arrested a sixth suspect in a thwarted plot to attack a number of sites in the metropolitan area of Paris, including the Champs Elysees and Disneyland Paris.
In the Netherlands, a man found with an AK-47 and two loaded magazines in his apartment was arrested. And in London a man was arrested on suspicion that he was preparing a terrorist act at Stansted Airport, 30 miles northeast of Central London.
On Dec. 6, authorities in Sweden arrested a Syrian national on suspicion of terrorism for an October arson attack at a Shi’ite prayer room in Malmo.
Last Friday, two teens in Germany were arrested on suspicion of plotting an “Islamist-motivated’ attack on a public institution near Aschaffenburg. German authorities also arrested an Afghan man earlier this month on suspicion of being a member of the Taliban.
"These arrests are for involvement in terrorist plots or clear material involvement with terrorist groups,” Ryan Mauro, national security analyst for the Clarion Project, told FoxNews.com. “This is the last stage where the evidence necessary for action is in its greatest abundance.
“The problem is that the number of extremists who become terrorists will grow while resources for stopping them in that last stage of action becomes less available."
Stratfor’s Stewart says that most of the attacks that were foiled were likely small in scale.
“It’s obvious that the threat will always remain,” he said, “but with the holidays and many of the Christmas markets that are normally set up this time of year, it proves to be a tempting soft target.”
He added “No one’s worried about a hard attack.”
Most, if not all, of those arrested, he also noted, likely will be released.
“I anticipate that we will see most of these guys kicked loose,” Stewart said. “[Law-enforcement officials] go on a fishing expedition.
“They just don’t want people to be killed.”