|20-02-2016 - 12:15 Last updated 20-02-2016 - 14:52|
Sunday, 21 February 2016
Europol: Up to 5000 Militants Returned from Syria, Walking Freely in Europe
Europe’s top police chief said that between 000 and 5,000 EU citizens returned to the continent from fighting in Syria and Iraq and pose a “completely new challenge.”
“Europe is currently facing the highest terror threat in more than in a decade,” Rob Wainwright, Europol’s director, told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung daily, warning of the real possibility of ISIL or other terror groups attacks in Europe.
“We can expect ISIL or other religious terror groups to stage an attack somewhere in Europe with the aim of achieving mass casualties among the civilian population,” he said, noting that the risk of attacks by individuals has also not diminished.
However, Wainwright refused to link the unprecedented increase in the terror threat with the ongoing refugee crisis. He refuted the widespread assumption that terrorists are infiltrating Europe under the guise of asylum seekers.
"There are no concrete indications that terrorists are systematically using the stream of refugees to come into Europe undetected," Wainwright said.
Last month, former UK Defense Secretary Liam Fox expressed concern that Takfiris could sneak into the EU among asylum-seekers. Southern European countries through which they travel “have no idea whether these people are genuine refugees or asylum seekers, or economic migrants, or terrorists operating under the cover of either,” he said.
These worries were substantiated after the German domestic intelligence service confirmed in February that it had received more than 100 tip-offs alleging ISIL militants had arrived in the country pretending to be refugees. The news prompted further debate on EU migration policy.