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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Jihadist Returnees From Syria – A Very Serious Terror Threat To Europe

Jihadist Returnees From Syria – A Very Serious Terror Threat To Europe

July 23, 2014


June 11, 2014 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - The terrorist and anti-Semitic attack on the the Jewish Museum in Brussels on May 25 was an al-Qaeda operation. Mehdi Nemmouche, a radicalized French-Algerian aged 29, entered the museum on that Sunday morning and killed three people using a kalashnikov and a pistol. A fourth victim was very seriously injured. He died on June 6. Kalashnikovs can be easily obtained from North African criminal gangs in Belgium, France or Holland. When he was arrested in Marseille in southern France on Friday, May 30, French police found his AK47 wrapped in an ISIL flag. ISIL stands for "Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant." It is an extremely dangerous al-Qaeda branch active in Iraq and Syria. (They also have a vast recruiting network in Europe.) Police also found Nemmouche's pistol and lots of ammunition. There is no doubt about it that he planned another terrorist attack, possibly in southern France.

It was in Amsterdam, Holland, that Nemmouche boarded the Eurolines bus bound for Brussels and Marseille where he arrived on Friday 30 May. His arrest in France was coincidental. The Eurolines bus was randomly checked by the French police in Marseille who were looking for drugs. What they found instead was Nemmouche's kalashnikov, his pistol as well as a video tape in which he says: "I will set Brussels on fire!"

Nemmouche was a notorious criminal in Tourgoing (near Roubaix in northern France). He was recruited by Muslim extremists while serving his most recent jail sentence between 2007 and 2012. Subsequently, he traveled to Syria, via Belgium (Kortijk), Britain, Turkey and Lebanon ­ – a very circumvential route to conceil the purpose of his trip. Once in Syria, he immediately joined the ranks of ISIL, the most fanatical jidahist group. Belgian Muslims and converts to Islam also joined ISIL after having been recruited by "Sharia4Belgium" or other radical movements.

Nemmouche returned to France in March 2014 (via Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Germany). The French police and security service have a huge file on him but they failed to share this vital information with their West European counterparts. That is why the Belgian police could not find the perpetrator of the attack on the Jewish Museum. This was the first terrorist attack by a European jihadist who reuturned from Syria. Many more are bound to follow.

"There are now hundreds of Al-Qaeda members with European passports who can travel freely through the Schengen countries," a leading Belgian terrorism expert told the Flemish newspaper "De Standaard." Federal Prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said on Sunday, June 1, that monitoring jihadists going to or returning from Syria now exhausts virtually all counter-terrorism capacity of the police and the courts.

Europe's prison populations in Belgium, France, Spain and Britain are an important and successful target of Al-Qaeda recruiters. "Forty percent of Britain's prison population is Muslim," "BBC Panorama" claimed recently. Radicalization in prison is a big problem. Quite a lot of criminals convert to Islam. It offers them safety in number. "Muslims have a duty to fight back," a prison officer taken hostage in 2013 said.

Many of the jihadists returning from Syria have a "holy" mission. They must either select a proper target for a terrorist attack or they must make other recruits.

A recent Dutch intelligence report makes the following correct observation: "For the jihadist groups active in Syria, the presence of European fighters represents an excellent opportunity to recruit individuals familiar with our region to commit acts of terrorism here. I addition, returnees could exploit their status as veterans to radicalize others in the Netherlands.

Al-Qaeda's involvement in the Syrian conflict adds an extra dimension to the threat. It still has every intention of carrying out attacks in the West, and the use of fighters from Europe could make that goal easier to achieve. It is conceivable that some will return home with an order to commit or facilitate such acts. There is also a risk that these fighters will form new networks in Europe, pooling their experiences either to perpetrate attacks or to assist new recruits wishing to fight in Syria or other conflict zones."

The vast majority of jihadists from Holland joined the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or Jabhat al-Nusra (JaN), the AIVD reports. More than twenty returned home. At least ten Dutch jihadists were killed in Syria in 2013, including two Dutch jihadists who blew themselves up in suicide attacks (one in Syria and one in Iraq).

The Amsterdam based newspaper "De Volkskrant" recently published an estimate of the number of European jihadists fighting in Syria and those who returned to their home countries. The number of Belgian jihadists is now 296, the number returnees is about 50. The number of British jihadists is now 366, the number of returnees is not exactly known. The number of Irish jihadists is 26, no returnees, so far. The number of Dutch jihadists is 152, the number of returnees is 20 to 30. The number of Spanish jihadists is 95, the number of returnees is not known. The number of Italian jihadists is 50, the number of returnees is 45. The number of Swiss jihadists is 1 and so is the number of jihadists from Luxembourg. The number of Norwegian jihadists is 40, no returnees yet. The number of Swedish jhadists is 87, no returnees yet. The number of Danish jihadists is 84, no returnees yet. The number of Finnish jihadists is 20, no returnees yet. The number of German jihadists is 240, the estimated number of returnees is 50. The number of Austrian jihadists is 60, no returnees yet. The number of French jihadists is 412, the number of returnees is 100 to 120 (!). The estimated total number is 1930. The names of only 396 of them are known.

Spain and a former GITMO detainee in Syria

Six jihadists were recently arrested in Melilla, one of the two Spanish enclaves in northern Morocco, the Spanish newspaper "El País" reported. They were involved in a terror network which sent young Muslim males to join al-Qaeda's jihad in Syria, Mali and Libya. Mustafa Al Lal Mohammed, Kamal Mohammed Driss, Benaissa Laghmouchi Baghdadi, Mohammed Mohammed Benali, Mustafa Zizaoui Mohand en Rachid Abdel Nahed Hamed were all residents of Melilla. The Spanish Interior Ministry claims they sent 26 jihadists to "Al-Qaeda in the Sahel." One of them was Zakaria Said Mohammed who is believed to be in Niger or Chad. One of those who were arrested in Melilla at end of May was involved in a movement called "Sharia4Spain" – which is part of the global "Sharia4"-movement – very dangerous Al-Qaeda recruiters in Europe.

The Spanish police suspect that about one thousand Moroccan jihadists are currently fighting in Syria. One of them went to a Spanish consulate in Turkey and indicated that he wanted to return to Melilla after having spent several months in Syria. Many of those Moroccan and Spanish jihadists joined a movement called "Harakat Sham al-Islam," an al-Qaeda branch led by former Guantanamo Bay ("GITMO") detainee Ibrahim Benchekroun who died in Latakia last April. This case shows once again how risky it is to release dangerous and fanatical jihadists from Guantanamo.

African and Muslim immigrants in Spain and Melilla also pose a very serious risk. Many of them are involved in crime and people smuggling. El País reported on May 31, that more than 1500 Syrian refugees managed to enter Melilla and Ceuta (another Spanish enclave in northern Morocco) with fake Moroccan identity papers. Each of them paid about 500 Euros for such a document. They traveled via Egypt, Libya and Algeria to Morocco where they entered the two Spanish enclaves. Many of them were later transfered to the Spanish mainland.

Thousands of African "immigrants" literally stormed the huge fences protecting Melilla in the past few weeks alone. Spanish immigration authorities are simply unable to cope with this massive influx. Italian immigration authorities in Lampedusa and Sicily are facing the same problem. At the end of May, the Italian coast guard had to rescue over 3000 refugees from the Middle East and Africa who boarded small and unseaworthy boats in Libya. Less than one week later the Italian coastguard had to rescue 5000 refugees and bring them to Italy. They had boarded 25 boats in Libya. It is estimated that about 800,000 others are waiting in northern Africa to cross the Mediterranean Sea, the Belgian newspaper "De Morgen" reported on June 4. Not only is this going to be an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, also does it pose a very serious security threat as terrorists and other Muslim radicals from Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, North-Africa, Mali, Niger, Chad, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and Kenia are also seeking to enter Europe and have done so on many occasions already.

The Italian coast guard spends about 300,000 Euros per day for rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea. There is only one way out: follow the Australian example and return as many people as possible to Libya. (Any other policy proved to be counterproductive.) The Australians force asylum seeker boats back to Indonesia. Most refugees who seek to enter Australia are from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Irak and Iran. The Autralians realize that without effective border controls their country will be swallowed up by non-Western migrants.

Those whose ships are sinking in the Mediterranean Sea must be taken on board Italian navy ships and then forcibly be returned to Libya. It may be against international agreements, but this is a real emergency. (Lawless Libya does not care about international agreements either.) Only this will discourage the criminal migrant trafficking networks and only this will drastically reduce the number of fatalities among the refugees.

Arnold Karkens, a leading journalist in the Netherlands and author of several books on journalism in wartime and war crimes, wrote an excellent article in "NRC Handelsblad," a liberal newspaper in Holland. He points out that migrant traffickers cooperate with terrorist organizations who offer "protection" in exchange for money.

Each asylum seeker in Holland costs the Dutch tax payer at least 25,000 Euro per year. After four years this amount has increased to 100,000 Euros. With this huge amount of money hundreds of needy people in Africa and the Middle East can be fed and supported, Karskens argues. "Stop the flow of boat people and stop those who storm fences," Karskens writes. "Send them back. This is hard but just. Focus on support for regional refugee centers." Karskens is right.

A lot of liberals in Europe have been taken hostage by powerful migrant trafficking and immigration mafias. In Holland, for example, it is virtually impossible to deport illegal African immigrants to their home countries. The Dutch government spent 92,000 Euros to deport just one of them to his home country Guinea. Yet, the Dutch Labor Party (PvdA) is in favor an even more liberal asylum policy.

Too many immigrants from Muslim countries and Africa are involved in crime and terrorism. Witchcraft and "ritual crimes," for example, are widespread in Africa, as "Jeune Afrique,", a leading African weekly, points out. Not so few immigrants from Africa still adhere to these traditional cultural practices and to Female Genital Mutilation.

Militant jihadists pose a very serious threat both in the Middle East, Europe, North America and Australia. There would not be so many Muslim militants in Europe, North America and Australia if there would not have been such a massive influx of immigrants from the Muslim world and Africa. Immigration from risk countries must be curbed. Otherwise, the free world will continue to import the violence, primitive cultural habits and conflicts of the immigrants' home countries. We will also import ever more anti-Semitism or Jew-hatred from the Muslim world. Synagogues, Jewish schools or individual Jews in Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Britain have frequently been targeted by Muslim radicals. The terrorist attack on that peaceful Jewish museum in Brussels is the most recent example.

Emerson Vermaat is an investigative reporter in the Netherlands specialized in crime and terrorism. Website: www.emersonvermaat.com.


De Standaard (Antwerp), June 2, 2014, p. 1, p. 7 ("Vrees voor nieuwe aanslagen door Syriëstrijders" – "Geradicaliseerd in de gevangenis"). Also quotes from a Belgian terrorism expert and public prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw.

NRC Handelsblad (Amsterdam), June 2, 2014, p. 1, 4-5 ("Jihadisten gaan de grens over, de inlichtingendiensten niet").

Het Nieuwsblad (Antwerp), June 2, 2014, p. 6, 7 ("Gepakte ex-Syriëstrijder wou na Joods Museum nog meer doelwitten treffen: ‘Ik wil Brussel in vuur en vlam zetten'"). "Via Kortrijk naar Syrië."

BBC Panorama, June 1, 2014.

General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD), Annual Report 2013 (The Hague: AVID, April 2014), p. 9, 10.

Soeren Kern, Dutch Jihadists in Syria Pose Threat to the Netherlands, Gatestoneinstitute.org.

De Volkskrant (Amsterdam), June 4, 2014, p. 16, 17.

El País (Madrid), May 31, 2014, p. 19 ("Desarticulada una red de captación de yihadistas en Melilla").

El País, May 31, 2014, p. 1, 18 ("Pasaporte a España: 500 euros").

El País, May 30, 2014, p. 14 ("Melilla refuerza su frontera tras el salto de 500 inmigrantes").

Het Nieuwsblad, June 2, 2014, p. 16. ("3000 vluchtelingen uit zee gered in twee dagen tijd"); various TV reports between June 1 to 6.

De Morgen (Brussels), June 4, 2014, p. 15 ("Europa maakt zich op voor kolossale humanitaire ramp"). "Aan de Afrikaanse kust zouden 800.000 mensen klaar staan om de levensgevaarlijke oversteek te wagen."

François Soudan, Crime rituel, and Elise Esteban, A quand une chasse aux véritables sorciers?, in: Jeune Afrique (Paris), 1-7 June 2014, p. 22-27. On witchcraft and ritual crimes in Africa.

Arnold Karskens, Vluchtelingenbeleid wordt Russisch roulette, in: NRC Handelsblad, June 7, 2014, p. 2 O&D (Op-Ed article).

De Telegraaf (Amsterdam), June 3, 2014, p. 3 ("Asielzoeker trekt alles uit de kast"). "Hongerstaking, ziekte veinzen, bijten, spugen en de boel bij elkaar schreeuwen." "92,000 Euros."

©2014 Emerson Vermaat All rights reserved.

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