Julian King said recent atrocities, in St Petersburg and London, were “attacks on our shared European values”. He said the four people killed and the 50 people injured in the Westminster attack a fortnight ago were from 11 countries.
“One of the injured was Irish and another victim probably owes his life to the fast-thinking and responses of an Irishwoman who performed CPR on him until the emergency services arrived on the scene,” said Mr King.
The European Commissioner for the Security Union told the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin that the London attack occurred on the first anniversary of the Brussels atrocity.
“France, Belgium and Germany have all suffered in a two-year cycle of Islamist terror on European soil,” he said. “These were attacks on our shared European values by people seeking to destroy our way of life.”
He said the threat from terrorism was nothing new and many European countries have had to deal with it in the past. However, he said the jihadi-inspired threat from IS was different because it wanted to eradicate the European way of life.
“The risk of a terrorist attack will remain high in the coming months and years, particularly as events in Syria, Iraq and indeed Libya unfold — with the prospect that some foreign terrorist fighters will attempt to return to the EU with the intention of planning and executing potential future attacks,” he said.
An estimated 30 Irish citizens have travelled to Syria and Libya to fight over the years, but many are known to have joined non-IS groups and at least five have died.
Khalid Kelly was the most recent reported death, in a thwarted suicide mission in Iraq, last November. He was one of the first Irish people reported as having fought for IS.
However, there have been court cases here involving people linked to IS, including a man purported to be their main recruiter here who was deported last July.
Mr King said: “Estimates vary, but around 2,000 European Union citizens who travelled to fight with ISIS remain there.
Keeping tabs on their whereabouts and movements is a key challenge for member states’ law and order agencies and for the EU as a whole.
“And so too is how to respond to the new phenomenon of ‘low-cost’ terrorism, where, as in London, Nice and Berlin, all you need is a vehicle or a knife to indiscriminately inflict fatal injuries on innocent people and those charged with protecting us.”
He said this week’s attack in St Petersburg fitted into a pattern of behaviour encouraged by IS online.
He said countries also needed to be vigilant about efforts to “radicalise within our communities” and that there was a need to “prevent the hatemongers from inciting people to commit violence”.
He said the internet was fertile terrain for radicalisation and that social media and internet providers needed to do more to detect and take down hate speech.