Europol’s latest ‘EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report’ (TE-SAT) 2016, suggests that Turkey remains the primary transit route for foreign terrorist fighters (FTF) travelling to and from Syria and Iraq. Many choose to fly directly or use airports from neighbouring or nearby countries to travel to and from Turkey, and/or the Balkan land route and sea routes via Italy and Greece.
In its report referencing the number of attacks, Greece has had 4 terrorist attacks with 29 arrests, whilst none of the attacks were jihadi or ISIS related, compared to France, which has suffered 73 attacks 424 arrests of which 377 arrests were Jihadi/ISIS related.
According to the report more than 5000 European nationals are estimated to have travelled to conflict zones in Syria and Iraq, with a great number of them believed to be female.
Europol says approximately 40% of all Dutch nationals that travel to or have travelled to Syria/Iraq are female. It is suggested that women have proved to be very successful at facilitating and recruiting whilst in the EU, but are less likely to (be able to) return than men from the conflict zones.
The report goes on to say that there is no concrete evidence terrorist travellers systematically use the flow of refugees to enter Europe unnoticed although in its investigations into the 13 November Paris attacks, it was found that two of the attackers had entered the EU through Greece as part of the large influx of refugees from Syria.
According to Europol’s report, in 2015:
- 151 people died and over 360 were injured as a result of terrorist attacks in the EU
- Islamic State introduced tactics of carrying suicide belts in mass-casualty attacks in the EU
- 211 failed, foiled and completed terrorist attacks carried out in EU Member States
- 1077 individuals arrested in the EU for terrorism-related offences
- Court proceedings for terrorism charges concluded in relation to 514 individuals
*By Alex Constantine