ISIS militants ‘hidden’ among Europe migrants

This photo provided by the Italian Navy's Press Office Monday, May 4, 2015 shows members of an an Italian Navy unit, on the dinghy at right, as they rescue migrants in the Mediterranean Sea. (AP)

ISIS militants are being smuggled into Europe across the Mediterranean by smugglers, a Libyan official told the BBC exclusively on Sunday.

Libyan government official Abdul Basit Haroun said that smugglers were hiding ISIS militants aboard their vessels crammed with migrants.

He claimed this information was from conversations he had with boat owners in parts of North Africa which are controlled by the militants.

He added that ISIS was allowing the smugglers to continue their operations in exchange for a 50 percent share of their revenue.

The U.N. estimates that around 60,000 migrants have already attempted to get across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe this year.

Over 1,800 people are feared to have died in the crossing in overcrowded and unsafe boats since the beginning of 2015 – a 20-fold increase over the same period in 2014, according to the British broadcaster.

In an interview with BBC Radio 5 live Investigates, Haroun said that ISIS used “the boats for their people who they want to send to Europe as the European police don’t know who is from ISIS and who is a normal refugee or not.”

The militants tended to sit separately from the other migrants on the boats and were not afraid of the perilous journey, he said, continuing that they were “for ISIS – 100 percent.”

Planning attacks

Haroun also suggested in his BBC interview that ISIS militants were planning future attacks in Europe.

In early 2015. The EU’s border control agency had warned that it was “possible” for foreign fighters to be using illegal migration in the Mediterranean to get into Europe.

ISIS which now controls areas in Iraq and Syria, and more recently have been very active in Libya, continues to exploit the power struggle in the North African country between various militias after the collapse of the Muammar Qaddafi regime in 2011.

In neighboring Tunisia, ISIS also claimed responsibility for a deadly attack the capital Tunis in March in which 22 people were killed.

 

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:47 - GMT 06:47
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