German authorities are hunting for dozens of members of one of the most violent jihadist groups in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra, but who, according to Der Spiegel, entered Germany disguised as refugees.
The men, all former members of Liwa Owais al-Qorani, a rebel group destroyed by the Islamic State in 2014, are believed to have massacred hundreds of Syrians, both soldiers and civilians.
German police have reportedly identified around 25 of the jihadists and apprehended some of them, but dozens more are believed to be hiding in cities and towns across Germany.
In all, more than 400 migrants who entered Germany as asylum seekers in 2015 and 2016 are now being investigated for being members of Middle Eastern jihadists groups, according to the Federal Criminal Police (Bundeskriminalamt, BKA).
The revelation comes amid new warnings that jihadists are posing as migrants and arriving from North Africa on boats across the Mediterranean and onto Italian shores. In an interview with The Times, Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj said that jihadists who had been able to pass undetected into his country were almost certainly making their way into Europe.
“When migrants reach Europe they will move freely,” said al-Sarraj, referring to the open borders within the European Union. “If, God forbid, there are terrorist elements among the migrants, any incident will affect all of the EU.”
Independent MEP Steven Woolfe said:
“These comments show the problem to be two-fold. Firstly, potential terrorists are using the Mediterranean migrant trail as a way of entering Europe unchecked. Secondly, with Europe’s lack of borders due to Schengen rules, once in Europe, they are able to move from one country to another freely. Strong borders are a necessity.”
Around 130,000 migrants arrived in Europe by land and sea during the first eight months of 2017, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The main nationalities of arrivals to Italy in July were, in descending order: Nigeria, Bangladesh, Guinea, Ivory Coast and Mali. Arrivals to Greece were from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Congo. Arrivals to Bulgaria were from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Turkey.
In recent weeks, traffickers bringing migrants to Europe have opened up a new route through the Black Sea. On August 13, 69 Iraqi migrants were arrested trying to reach the Romanian Black Sea coast, having set off from Turkey in a yacht piloted by Bulgarian, Cypriot and Turkish smugglers. On August 20, the Romanian Coast Guard intercepted another boat carrying 70 Iraqis and Syrians, including 23 children, in the Black Sea in Romania’s southeastern Constanta region.
A total of 2,474 people were detained while trying to cross the Romanian border illegally during the first six months of 2017, according to Balkan Insight. Almost half of them were caught while trying to leave Romania for Hungary. In 2016 only 1,624 migrants were detained; most were found trying to cross from Serbia to Romania.
Meanwhile, more than 10,000 migrants reached Spanish shores during the first eight months of 2017 — three times as many as in all of 2016, according to the IOM. Thousands more migrants have entered Spain by land, primarily at the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla on the north coast of Morocco, the European Union’s only land borders with Africa. Once there, migrants are housed in temporary shelters and then moved to the Spanish mainland, from where many continue on to other parts of Europe.
Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, has warned that jihadists are using the migration crisis to enter Europe and plot attacks across the continent. Frontex It has also conceded that it does not know the true number of migrants who have crossed into Europe and has no way of tracking them. In its annual risk analysis for 2016, Frontex wrote:
“The Paris attacks in November 2015 clearly demonstrated that irregular migratory flows could be used by terrorists to enter the EU. Two of the terrorists involved in the attacks had previously irregularly entered through Leros [Greece] and had been registered by the Greek authorities. They presented fraudulent Syrian documents to speed up their registration process.
“False declarations of nationality are rife among nationals who are unlikely to obtain asylum in the EU, are liable to be returned to their country of origin or transit, or just want to speed up their journey. With a large number of persons arriving with false or no identification documents or raising concerns over the validity of their claimed nationality — with no thorough check or penalties in place for those making such false declarations, there is a risk that some persons representing a security threat to the EU may be taking advantage of this situation.”
In an August 31 interview with the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, Gilles de Kerchove, the EU’s Counterterrorism Coordinator said that more than 50,000 jihadists are now living in Europe:
“Three years ago, it was easy to identify someone who has become radicalized. Now, most fanatics disguise their convictions. We do not have exact figures, but it is not difficult to do approximate calculations. United Kingdom, it is not a secret, it has been published, it has 20,000. France, 17,000. Spain much less, but more than 5,000, I suppose. In Belgium almost 500 have gone to Syria and there are about 2,000 radicals or more. I would not venture to a specific figure, but tens of thousands, more than 50,000.”
|Masked Spanish policemen in Madrid arrest a man suspected of recruiting jihadists to fight for the Islamic State, June 16, 2014. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)|
In an interview with the Belgian daily Le Soir, de Kerchove warned that even if the Islamic State is militarily defeated, it will continue to thrive as a “virtual caliphate.” He also said that Europol, the European police office, has identified at least 30,000 active jihadist websites, but that EU legislation no longer requires internet service providers to collect and preserve metadata — including data on the location of jihadists — from their customers due to privacy concerns. De Kerchove said this was hindering the ability of police to identify and deter jihadists: “On metadata, I confess that we pull our hair out.”
Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad displays the Barbie doll modeled after her. (Twitter)
A new hijab-sporting doll modeled on the Muslim Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad will join the Barbie line in 2018, Mattel announced last week.
Part of the company’s “Shero” collection highlighting real-life women inspiring new generations, the new doll, outfitted in fencing garb, is modestly covered up from head to toe. She is the first Barbie ever to flaunt the hijab, a traditional headscarf worn by many Muslim women.
British-Israeli Jonathan Spyer knows he’s been gambling with his life, but says getting the story is worth it
Jonathan Spyer, wearing a black leather jacket, meets with Kurdish YPG fighters in northern Syria in 2013. (Courtesy)
Jonathan Spyer had been behind enemy lines many times before, carefully guarding his dangerous secret. But on a fine Spring day in Aleppo this year, in an area controlled by the Syrian regime, he thought his cover might have finally been blown — not by government intelligence agents or Islamist rebels, but by a fellow Brit just trying to have a nice chat over coffee.
How an Israeli family conquered the Vienna food scene
If London has Ottolenghi; Paris, Miznon; and Jerusalem, Machneyuda, then Vienna has NENI. Founded in March 2009 by the indefatigable Haya Molcho and her sons, NENI has become the go-to restaurant in Vienna for eclectic Israeli and Middle Eastern cuisine. With NENI, the Molchos also became pioneers, introducing the kaleidoscopic Israeli palette to an Austrian audience while transforming Vienna’s historic but slightly staid Naschmarkt from a traditional market into a gastronomic hotspot.
In a city marked by its Turkish-owned kebab stands, NENI has broadened the definition of Levantine food in Vienna beyond that which can be handheld, stuffed inside a pita. Haya has taken the classics and turned up the volume. For example, NENI is famous for its “hamshuka,” hummus that contains a fragrant mound of warmly spiced ground beef and lamb, served with pita
Twenty French and European parliamentarians and French mayors who planned to arrive in Israel to show their support for imprisoned Arab terrorists, and specifically meet with convicted terrorist Marwan Barghouti, canceled their flight from France at the airport at the last minute, according to a report in NRG.
The flight was scheduled to leave at 8:00 pm on Saturday.
The anti-Israeli parliamentarians were informed that nine of their more prominent BDS-supporting members would be denied entry into Israel, so they made the group decision that none would go.
How Obama’s appeasement policies have prompted a fundamental realignment in Mideast alliances.
The Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, revealed this week that Israel was prepared to share intelligence with Saudi Arabia in an effort to combat Iran’s expansionist agenda and malign regional influence. The unprecedented statement was made during the course of an interview with the London-based, Saudi online publication, Elaph.
Speaking at the Zionist Organization of
America’s annual dinner, Steven Bannon, US President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist and current CEO of the Breitbart news website, said the US political establishment has “lowered the bar on what [pro-Israel] is supposed to be.”
Bannon invited the pro-Israel activists to join what he referred to as the “insurgency movement against the Republican establishment and against the permanent political class in Washington, DC.”
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri recently shocked the international community by announcing his resignation. Hariri, a Sunni political leader, made this announcement from Saudi Arabia, where some speculate that he is being held under house arrest, while others believe he is there on his own accord because he fears for his very life. These fears are not unfounded. In 2005, his father, Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, was assassinated by a car bomb that is believed to have been planted by Hezbollah.
It’s our problem, actually, and we’ve made it theirs.
Check out our split-brain reaction to the Palestinian Authority. By rights, the U.S. should have nothing to do with people who venerate and pay for terror against civilians; teach their children that their country is “From the (Jordan) River to the (Mediterranean) Sea; rob donors and international agencies blind; jail people for their Facebook posts; hold office eight years after the end of a single elected term; refuse to seat an elected parliament; and refuse to acknowledge the permanence and legitimacy of America’s ally, Israel.
Tell me, I am asked over and over again, both by friends and by people who aren’t my friends, have you people in the media gone mad? Do you really think Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sold the state’s interest to help his friends get rich?
You’re creating the impression that “Netanyahu is a traitor,” without actually saying the word. It’s worse than what they did to the former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, some even say. And in any event, none of his supporters buy into your claims. You’re simply lying.
“Many people prowl round Mount Sinai. Their speech is blurred, either they are garrulous or they shout or they are taciturn. But none of them comes straight down a broad, newly made, smooth road that does its own part in making one’s strides long and swifter.” (Franz Kafka, Mount Sinai)