ISIS & Al-Qaeda still a threat as jihadist cells spread in Europe, Asia – Moscow
Despite losing territories in Syria and Iraq, Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and Al-Qaeda militants still pose a threat as terrorists cells spread in Europe and Asia, FSB head Alexander Bortnikov has said.
FILE PHOTO. A fighter from the Al-Qaida group in the Levant, Al-Nusra Front, poses next to the movements flag in a destroyed building in Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp, south of Damascus on September 22, 2014 © AFP / Rami Al-Sayed
Terrorist groups operating on a network basis are taking root in Europe, Central and South-Eastern Asia, the director of Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) warned. Organized groups of criminals for instance advance deep into Africa including Libya, the official said adding that the same can be said about Afghanistan.
"The Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and related terrorist groups still pose a serious threat having structured themselves on a network basis. Interconnected and autonomous cells spread outside the Middle East to Europe, Central and South-Eastern Asia."
According to Bortnikov, the driving force behind IS expansion is militants who are now returning to their countries of origin and creating terrorist cells at home. More than 1,500 out of 5,000 jihadists from Europe who earlier joined IS managed to come back from the Middle East, Bortnikov said citing expert estimates.
Most of them “had no difficulties” in reaching their home countries, the official bemoaned. He also hinted that Brussels’ migration policy might be the reason for such a drastic advance as hundreds of thousands refugees entered EU since 2015, many of which stemmed from the countries with high terrorist activity.
In March, US President Donald Trump declared victory against IS in Syria after the Washington-backed SDF militia gained control over Baghouz, the jihadists’ last stronghold in Syria.
Trump’s claim, however, has been questioned by Syrian envoy to UN Bashar Jaafari who said that the Islamic State “is not over yet.” French President Emmanuel Macron was also cautious about the matter indicating that the threat persists and the fight against terrorist groups must continue.