Images of “refugees” arriving in Europe who previously fought for jihadist rebel factions in Syria are stoking further concerns that ISIS could be exploiting the crisis to infiltrate terrorists into the west.
At least three individuals have been identified entering Europe who have previously been pictured fighting for Al-Qaeda-linked militant groups.
The most widely circulated photos are these images of Laith Al Saleh, who was profiled by the Associated Press last month. Al Saleh was the commander of a 700-strong FSA rebel unit in Syria.
BBC News attempted to debunk the notion that Al Saleh was a jihadist, despite the fact that the Free Syrian Army fought alongside ISIS and has committed a plethora of war crimes and human rights violations, including forcing a child to behead a prisoner.
Another image shows a “refugee” who was previously alleged to have fought alongside Jabhat al-Nusra, an Al-Qaeda offshoot that has been responsible for innumerable atrocities in Syria, including beheadings.
A third set of images shows a “refugee” who had previously been pictured heavily armed fighting for a jihadist faction in Syria.
After the images were circulated on social media, Hungary’s M1 television reported, “Islamist terrorists, disguised as refugees, have showed up in Europe. [The] pictures were uploaded on various social networks to show that terrorists are now present in most European cities. Many, who are now illegal immigrants, fought alongside Islamic State before.”
Although it is likely the men pictured fought with jihadist rebel factions in Syria – not ISIS – many of the so-called “moderate” rebels share the same ideology and went on to join ISIS.
“From what I can see in the report it was an investigation of Facebook pages of individuals, who in the past associated with terror groups, and who now on their personal pages are posting pictures of themselves, showing that they are in Germany, they are in the West,” Tony Robinson, co-director of humanitarian organization Pressenza, told RT. “Either way there are almost certainly individuals, who have belonged to terrorist groups in the past, some of them, no doubt will be radicalized to the extent that they will be prepared to commit acts of violence and terrorism against cities of Europe.”
Earlier this year, ISIS threatened to flood Europe with half a million migrants as part of a “psychological attack,” fulfilling Colonel Gaddafi’s 2011 warning that the Mediterranean would become a “sea of chaos”. Gaddafi also warned that jihadists would later “conquer Rome”.
An ISIS operative revealed last week that the clandestine plan had been a “complete success” and that Islamic State now had infiltrated around 4,000 fighters into Europe as a result of western nations’ generosity towards refugees.
“Just wait,” the operative told Buzzfeed. “It’s our dream that there should be a caliphate not only in Syria but in all the world and we will have it soon, God willing.”
“They are going like refugees,” he added. “Others just go to Europe to be ready.”
As the Sydney Morning Herald reports, in some areas 90% of the migrants arrive claiming they are Syrian refugees yet have no evidence to prove it at all, with many discarding their real IDs before they cross the border.
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