From my latest VOA report — you can find it here: “The refugee crisis roiling Europe presents a win-win opportunity for Islamic State (IS) extremists, says international terrorism research consultancy TRAC.
By hiding among thousands of asylum-seekers, the Islamist militants can expand their operational presence in Europe, the consortium of analysts warned in a briefing released Thursday.
And if any of their infiltrated members are caught, the backlash could help radicalize disaffected European Muslims.
Despite fears that IS is exploiting the refugee crisis to infiltrate Europe by disguising members as asylum-seekers, only six cases have so far been reported. Analysts, however, say the apparently meager numbers shouldn’t be a cause for relief or a source of complacency — a point echoed by European intelligence officials who VOA spoke to on condition of anonymity.
So nice to see the Washington Post catching up.
This was my dispatch for the Daily Beast posted February 6 on signs of internal fraying within ISIS.
“The propagandists of the putative Islamic State would have you believe it is just one big happy family, righteously slaughtering apostates, enslaving women (literally), beheading and burning alive its prisoners, all in the name of God. But quarrels over a range of issues—from divvying up of the spoils of war to competition over women and, yes, the handling of foreign hostages—point to a lot of trouble beneath the surface of this terror army…
Punitive killings, the flight of some senior ISIS commanders, and the execution of more than 60 foreign fighters who wanted to leave in recent days risk provoking more flare-ups, say residents who recently escaped Raqqa.”
Today — a month later — the Post today reports:
“The Islamic State appears to be starting to fray from within, as dissent, defections and setbacks on the battlefield sap the group’s strength and erode its aura of invincibility among those living under its despotic rule.
Reports of rising tensions between foreign and local fighters, aggressive and increasingly unsuccessful attempts to recruit local citizens for the front lines, and a growing incidence of guerrilla attacks against Islamic State targets suggest the militants are struggling to sustain their carefully cultivated image as a fearsome fighting force drawing Muslims together under the umbrella of a utopian Islamic state.”
What is happening at Heathrow airport – from the airlines to the UK Border Agency? A 15-year-old girl, Yusra Hussien, apparently accompanied by a 17-year-old flies off from Heathrow to Istanbul (not entirely clear whether they went on a direct flight) and no one questions them and checks with their parents first? Here is a link to an ITV report about the case. But this is the second time we know of where a youngster flew off from Heathrow to join ISIS without an eyebrow being raised at the airport.
The other case concerns Ibrahim Kamara, a 19-year-old from Brighton. He traveled on his 15-year-old brother’s passport and not a question raised. One way to get people to sit up at Heathrow would be to sack some of the top Border Agency officials at the airport and to fine the airlines involved colossal amounts – or if there is no law on the books to allow that to happen to pass one.