Sunday 25 September 2016

'My gut says 1 in 50 Syrian refugees in Europe could be ISIS' - Lebanese minister warns

David Kearns

Published 15/09/2015 | 13:13

A Syrian man holds his family's passports as he lines up with other to apply for asylum in Germany Credit: Hussein Malla
A Syrian man holds his family's passports as he lines up with other to apply for asylum in Germany Credit: Hussein Malla

One in 50 Syrian refugees entering Europe are ‘likely ISIS members’, claims a Lebanese government minister.

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Education Minister Elias Bou Saab has suggested as many as two per cent of refugees from Syria may be jihadis sent by the so-called Islamic State.

While there is no information on the number of refugees who might have ISIS members, Mr Saab said his “gut” told him it was happening.

“Yes, they bring some people, the smugglers. They organise groups and send them out,” he told  journalists when asked if militants could be coming to Europe under the guise of being refugees.

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“Groups were arriving from Syria which looked different to usual refugees.

“They are all dressed with something unified, uniform, vests.

Lebanese Education minister Elias Bou Saab (L) with UK Prime Minister David Cameron during a visit to a school in Beirut Credit: Stefan Rousseau
Lebanese Education minister Elias Bou Saab (L) with UK Prime Minister David Cameron during a visit to a school in Beirut Credit: Stefan Rousseau

“I don’t have any information. My gut feeling is, yes, they are facilitating such an operation. For what reason, I don’t know,” he added.

Mr Saab said he thought militants could be going to Europe via Turkey and Greece.

“You may have, let’s say, two per cent that are radicals.

“That is more than enough. We have had that also with our camps here. You find two per cent to three per cent of them.”

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“When the Lebanese army were kidnapped in Lebanon the people who kidnapped them came out of the camps,” he added, “they kidnapped the soldiers and they took them to the mountains”. 

Mr Saab made the comments while travelling with UK Prime Minister David Cameron on a visit to Lebanon and Jordan.

His warning comes follow comments from Pope Francis that Islamic State fighters could enter Europe hidden among the large numbers of refugees and migrants.

The Pope told Portuguese radio station Radio Renascença: “The truth is that just 400 kilometres from Sicily there is an incredibly cruel terrorist group. So there is a danger of infiltration, this is true.”

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