Ten jihadists and other Arabs suspected of participating in international terrorism have been identified in the last year, at least, in Greece following investigations by the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Hellenic Police, To Vima tis Kyriaki reported.
This has caused concern about the targeting of armed organisations from the Middle East in not only Greece, but also other European states, particularly in the light of the recent arrests of Pakistanis in Athens.
Many of these operations to locate foreign armed men have not been made public, with indicative ones – in 2021-2022 – of two Syrians, an Algerian and an Iraqi. Members of ISIS have reportedly returned from the Middle East with unknown intentions, beyond trying to eradicate their traces in Greece.
At the same time, there is concern about the reappearance of invisible "lone wolves" who initially acted due to religious fanaticism - mainly Sunni Muslims - and revenge for the dissolution of the "Islamic State".
They themselves seem to be... replaced, as evidenced by the recent arrests of foreigners in Zakynthos and Laconia, by other amateur, non-fanatic Shiites who are partially lured by tens of thousands of euros for each of their victims.
Their leaders are also their financiers, who send sums of money to relatives through a well-known money transfer company. The order is "attack and pay".
The Europol report
Therefore, in the last period of time, only the arrests of a 27-year-old Moroccan in Thessaloniki and a 35-year-old Iraqi in the centre of Athens, who seem to have had relations with ISIS, were reported.
They were preceded by the arrest of a 27-year-old jihadist from Syria at the migrant camp in Eleonas, who was allegedly involved in the mass slaughter of around 1,500 people – members of the Al-Shaitat tribe – in August 2014 by the Islamic State.
There was also the arrest of a 27-year-old Tajik national listed as a "leading member of ISIS" in Tripoli. In addition, the Europol report noted that in 2021 there were 260 arrests of jihadists on European soil, of which four were in Greece.
However, it seems that there were a number of others in the period 2021-2023 that had not been made public in the efforts of the authorities to eliminate the initial danger from the "fighters" of the Islamic State who return from the Middle East through Greece.
The issue becomes particularly critical due to the pressure exerted by foreign countries and after the finding that the "kamikaze" jihadist network that bloodied France and Belgium in the 2015-2016 period had entered from the North Aegean and had been staying for a long time in Attica.
It is noted that in the period 2012-2016 more than 42,000 foreign fighters joined ISIS of which around 5,000 are believed to be from Europe.
According to an earlier report by Europol, the recorded rate of return of European ISIS fighters to their countries in previous years was low, in the order of 25%-40%.
But in newer documents it is pointed out that there is an invisible return of European ISIS "fighters" with forged documents and who have knowledge of handling weapons and explosives.
It has also been found that the eight prisons on Syrian soil controlled mainly by Kurdish fighters held about 11,000 ISIS members, of which about 9,000 are from Syria and Iraq and another 2,000 came from 50 other states.
Finally, it is mentioned that there are 700-950 surveillance of suspects following tips from foreign law enforcement agencies, most of which related to possible involvement in ISIS.