According to participants of the Foreign and Security Policy Conference, held in Brussels, about 5,000 members of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group are currently living in EU. The most part of them is European citizens.
About 5,000 members of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group are currently living in EU member states. The statement was made during the Foreign and Security Policy Conference in Brussels on September 7.
According to experts, the most part of terrorists, living in the EU, is European citizens. Conference participants noted that a number of EU citizens have been attempting to join terrorist groups in the Middle East over the past few years. In February, Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency, reported that since 2011, 30,000 people from over 100 countries, including European states, have reportedly gone to Iraq and Syria to join various terrorist groups there. Potentially, battle-hardened European terrorists may return to their home countries and carry out terrorist attacks there.
In November last year, a series of attacks was launched by IS terrorists in Paris, a total of 130 people were killed. The perpetrators were mostly Belgium-based. In March, three bomb attacks in Brussels killed at least 34 people and injured about 200 others.
Belgium, where the NATO headquarters and main institutions of the EU are located, is viewed as the major source of recruitment for the IS in Europe.
A lack of a coordinated approach to tackling terrorism and poor levels of intelligence sharing among EU countries were criticized during the conference. Participants noted that terrorists, scattered across all 28 states of the bloc, are going to carry out more deadly attacks in the EU.
“These threats, in Europe at least, stem from dysfunctional and difficult domestic politics, more than they stem from external sources,” research director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, Jeremy Shapiro, said.
Ex-commissioner of the EU, Michel Barnier, noted that the migration crisis in Europe could be potentially used by terrorists for entering the territory of the bloc, disguised as asylum seekers, and stressed the need for securing the borders of EU countries.
“There are about 250,000 Syrians in Libya, waiting for the opportunity to cross the sea, and about 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, without mentioning those, who are in Lebanon and Jordan, so it is not over,” Barnier said.
A large numbers of refugees, fleeing from Africa and the Middle East, have been arriving in Europe in search of a better life. The most part of them uses sea routes to reach the external borders of the EU.