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Potentially hundreds of 'IS' recruits in Europe

Europol has reiterated warnings that hundreds of potential Islamist terrorists are located across Europe. It has cast doubt, however, on views that the "Islamic State" militia has systematically used refugee routes.

A spokesman for Europe's policing agency told the Osnabrücker Zeitung newspaper on Tuesday that IS had enticed about 5,000 "foreign fighters" from within the 28-nation bloc to join its operations in Syria and Iraq.

One-third had returned to Europe, amounting to between 1,500 to 1,800 persons, but there was no indication that IS used people-smuggling routes, the spokesman said.

"Members of terrorist groups or returning foreign fighters with EU passports travel as a rule into the European Union with genuine or faked passports.

Many of them have neither the intention nor the capability to launch terrorist attacks," the Europol spokesman said, but added: "Hundreds remain however as potential terrorists, who pose a danger for security in Europe."

Europol said it was assisting national authorities in keeping tabs on suspects.

None directly planned

Last week, Europol said in a 55-page report that Europe was at risk of so-called "lone wolf" terror attacks.

IS and al-Qaeda had "repeatedly called on Muslims living in Western countries to perpetrate lone actor attacks in the countries of residence," the report said.

"Although IS has claimed responsibility for the latest attacks, none … seems to have been planned, logistically supported or executed directly by IS," Europol said.

It added that women had also "proven to be very successful in facilitating and recruiting while still in the EU."

Last year in Europe, 687 suspects were arrested, of whom 198 were convicted of jihadist activities, the agenda added.

ipj/kms (epd, dpa)

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