Up to 5,000 EU citizens, trained in Syria and Iraq by the Islamic State (IS), have returned in Europe, Europol chief Rob Wainwright said in an interview with Germany’s Neue Osnabrucker Zeitung newspaper.
On 20 February, Wainwright told the German daily that “Europe is currently facing the highest terror threat in more than 10 years.” He said that the EU Member States can expect by the so-called Islamic State (IS) or other religious terror groups to stage an attack somewhere in Europe “with the aim of achieving mass casualties among the civilian population.” Wainwright added that the estimated thousands of returned jihadists “presents EU member states with completely new challenges.”
Many are trying to link the current European refugee crisis with the return of many jihadists, saying that the halt of the refugee influx will result in the better protection of the EU citizen. Wainwright, dismissed the claims and underlined that “there is no concrete evidence terrorists are systematically using the flow of refugees to infiltrate Europe.”
However, Russian website RT, reported that in January, former UK Defense Secretary Liam Fox expressed concern that jihadists could sneak into the EU among asylum-seekers. The national authorities “have no idea whether these people are genuine refugees or asylum seekers, or economic migrants, or terrorists operating under the cover of either,” he had said then.
Moreover, on late January, French Interior Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve also said that the IS acquired blank passports and established a fake passports industry. “Daesh (the Arabic name for the IS) has managed to seize passports in Iraq, Syria and Libya and to set up a true industry of fake passports.”
Then the French Interior Minister advised his European fellow Minister that the EU must establish special task forces and sent them to Greece to assist the identification of fake or stolen passports.