EU representative says terrorists might pose as immigrants
European Union Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove has warned of the risk that Islamist terrorists posing as refugees could enter Europe. He has also called on the EU agency for border control, Frontex, to be even more alert when it comes to migrants from Iraq, Libya and Syria in particular.
De Kerchove emphasized that he has been reluctant until now to speak of the risk that Islamist fighters might infiltrate humanitarian routes into the EU because he did not want the raising of the issue to harm humanitarian efforts. "Now, however, I am saying it: We must be on the alert. It is relatively easy to get into the European Union if one blends in with the stream of migrants," he told Agence France-Presse on the sidelines of a ministerial meeting in Vienna.
The number of asylum seekers in European Union countries last year rose by almost half compared to the year before, according to the European statistical bureau Eurostat. While in 2013 around 435 000 people requested asylum in the EU-28, last year more than 626 000 did so.
About 20 % of all asylum-seekers are refugees from Syria, and the Czech Republic recorded a growth in the number of such requests by 65 %, to a total of 1 145. The EU Coordinator is also of the opinion that Europe is now a target, primarily for small-scale attacks perpetrated by individuals espousing the radical group calling itself the Islamic State, but also for even worse attacks.
For example, the terrorist network Al-Qaeda, according to de Kerchove, could try to demonstrate that it is still active by committing a large-scale assassination in Europe. The Counter-Terrorism Coordinator was invited to Vienna to attend a meeting of ministers from Austria, the Balkan countries, and Italy, the aim of which was to improve international cooperation on preventing Islamist fighters from coming to the EU, either from the Balkans or through them.
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