Up to 5,000 jihadists could be at large in Europe after training with Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), the EU’s police chief has warned.
Europol estimates the number of EU citizens who have slipped back after training in the Middle East as between 3,000 and 5,000, Rob Wainwright, the British head of Europol, the EU’s police agency, said.
“Europe is currently facing the highest terror threat in more than ten years.” Mr Wainwright said.
“We can expect Isil or other religious terror groups to stage an attack somewhere in Europe with the aim of achieving mass casualties among the civilian population,” he told Germany’s Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung newspaper.
Before becoming head of Europol in 2009, Mr Wainwright served in senior roles at the UK’s National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) and Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).
The growing number “presents EU member states with completely new challenges”, he told the newspaper.
However, he played down fears terrorists are using the migrant crisis to enter Europe posing as asylum seekers.
an expect Isil or other terrorist groups to stage an attack in Europe, warns Rob Wainwright, the British head of Europol, the EU’s police agency