New Details on 173-Man Islamic State Terror Team Headed Towards Europe
A report released two weeks ago by Interpol publicized identifying information of 173 Islamic State operatives suspected to be headed towards -- or already in -- Europe. The report warns that it's easier for non-European operatives to slip into the continent than for European citizens of the terror group.
Today, a new report from Belgian media outlet HLN provides additional details on these ISIS operatives, and on one known Belgian operative in particular:
Belgian Islamic State terrorist on his way to Europe
On the list of 173 IS terrorists who would be on their way to Europe to commit suicide bombings there is also a Belgian. He is a 24-year-old with Moroccan roots who is called "Abu Omar Al-Belgiki." The Belgian with dual nationality remained until recently in Mosul, the Iraqi bulwark where IS has recently been expelled. He never appeared in public before.
His nickname appears to be a tribute to Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the Molenbeek commander of the Paris terror attack who used the same alias. Where the Belgian is currently is not known. But of the other Europeans for whom Interpol expressly warns in a document we have obtained, one could certainly escape the siege of Mosul and now try to get from Syria to the West through neighboring countries.
Most on the list are Iraqis, but that does not make the threat any less dangerous. It is feared that IS is again trying to get terrorists through the refugee stream into Europe -- and people without any history on our continent have better chances of success entering than European IS operatives.
Particularly worrying is the high number of minors on the terrorist list. They are even easier to slip through the mesh of the grid, while they have sometimes been trained for suicide attacks for a few years. "In the Interpol document, there are certainly three names of teenagers who received such training and have already left the IS area," says a reliable source in Mosul. "They are currently in Turkey, if they have not already traveled further to Europe."
That Abu Omar Al-Belgiki is using the same alias as the ISIS emir who coordinated the November 2015 suicide attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and injured 368 is an ominous sign. Abdelhamid Abaaoud had been a senior member of ISIS operating in eastern Syria, but he was able to travel with refugees through Greece to return to Europe and plan the Paris attacks.
Abaaoud had previously been featured in ISIS's Dabiq magazine:
Traveling along the refugee routes through Turkey into Europe appears to be the strategy his new namesake has in mind, based on the HLN report. The author of the HLN article provided additional details on the Interpol list on Twitter earlier today: