Isil exploiting migrant routes to smuggle jihadists using fake documents
Intelligence officials fear terror groups are increasingly exploiting the huge migrant flows to set up jihadist sleeper cells throughout Europe
Published 27/01/2016 | 07:10
Isil jihadists are exploiting the migrant crisis to smuggle terrorists into Europe with fake passports they can then use to travel to the UK, British intelligence officials fear.
Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (Isil) is increasingly exploiting the huge migrant flows to slip jihadist cells through undetected to launch attacks in the UK and elsewhere.
They are mainly travelling on fake Syrian or Iraqi passports which are now so sophisticated it is almost impossible to distinguish between genuine refugees and terror suspects.
The concerns will increase pressure on European leaders to get a grip on the migrant crisis that is engulfing the EU.
It is feared sleeper cells are being established in the UK and across Europe having been sent back by their Isil commanders fully trained and with attack orders.
The strategy is being run out of Isil’s Syrian stronghold in Raqqa where would-be recruits are briefed and handed new identities.
It also means suspects who were under watch by the intelligence agencies suddenly vanish.
It came as one of the EU’s most senior officials disclosed that six in 10 migrants arriving in Europe are economic migrants with no right to asylum.
Frans Timmermans, the first vice president of the European Commission, said that the majority of those coming to the EU are not fleeing war or persecution and that they should be deported.
“It’s about 60 per cent of all asylum seekers,” he said, citing internal figures held by Frontex, the EU border agency. “These are people that you can assume have no reason to apply for refugee status.”
The disclosure that terrorists are exploiting the refugee crisis to gain access to the UK will intensify pressure on the Government ahead of the European Union referendum, which Downing Street is now looking to hold on June 23.
Eurosceptics have warned that the only way of ensuring that terrorists are not able to travel to the UK would be by withdrawing from the EU and imposing much stricter border regulations.
Robert Fico, the Slovakian prime minister, on Tuesday declared the EU is committing a “ritual suicide” by letting so many migrants in to the continent.
Michael Gove, the Justice Secretary and a noted eurosceptic, said that immigration is "effectively uncontrolled" in the EU and has become an issue of "profound public concern".
There has been growing concern that the refugee crisis would provide opportunities for fanatics to slip in under the radar since the Paris attacks in November.
At least two of the terrorists who killed 130 people in the marauding gun and suicide bomb attack had entered Europe on fake Syrian passports.
It was also feared the ringleader, Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud, one of Europe’s most wanted terrorists, was able to return from Syria hiding among the thousands of refugees crossing the Mediterranean to Greece.