EU united in fight against radical acts

EUROPEAN Union counterterrorism officials are working to develop a variety of techniques, including quicker sharing of information and a better understanding of what triggers the rare radical to turn to violence, in an effort to prevent future attacks like the massacre in Norway.

But the effort, begun at a special meeting yesterday in Brussels that also included Norwegian representatives, came as officials acknowledged there may have been no way to do so - and that potentially undetectable copycat attacks now present a significant risk.

"Clearly, one major risk is that somebody may actually try to mount a similar attack as a copycat attack or as a way of showing support," said Tim Jones, principal adviser to EU counterterrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove. Mr Jones said that how such an attack was planned, and where it took place, would determine "whether it's detectable or not".

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He said whatever approach is decided on would be multilayered. In addition to better communication between countries and the study of trigger points that led a person to become violent, he said the EU had already been working on a system of tracking or licensing precursors, such as fertiliser, that could be used to make explosives. And he said he hoped for a network of experts who would be able to spot troublesome behavioural signs at the local level.

However, Zbigniew Muszynski, the director of Poland's counterterrorism department, said there were no hints that would have allowed Norwegian officials to prevent the massacre.

The European police agency Europol said it had agreed with police chiefs from Norway, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Poland, Sweden and Britain that its operations centre in The Hague, Netherlands, would be expanded to include their senior experts.