Four former ISIS fighters — a Chechen in Bremen, two Iraqis in Berlin, and a Syrian arrested Schleswig-Holstein — were arrested in Germany within the past week.
And these arrests come just days before Germany’s general election, when Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door immigration policies are up for review by the voters.
These arrests also come as thousands of ISIS fighters in Syria and Iraq are retreating to their home countries after stinging defeats imposed by U.S.-led coalition forces and the Syrian army.
Bremen: A 28-year old Chechen man, Aslanbek S., was arrested on September 13 with a Chechen woman (presumably his wife) after a months-long investigation. Prosecutors allege he fought with ISIS in Syria.
Berlin: Two men, 31-year old Iraqi Raad Riyadh A.A. and 19-year old Iraqi Abbas R., were arrested on September 15. According to federal prosecutors, Raad Riyadh executed two Shi’ite women in Mosul and later executed an Iraqi officer. He arrived in Germany on July 31, 2015, and then tried to recruit two suicide bombers. Abbas R. is accused of participating in the same executions and committing war crimes.
Schleswig-Holstein: A Syrian man, Majed A., took up arms against the Assad regime in 2013, fighting first with al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, later shifting to Ahrar al-Sham, and then joining ISIS in Raqqa in 2014. Federal prosecutors allege that he was tasked by ISIS to travel to Europe, and he arrived in Germany on August 10, 2015.
The former ISIS fighters in these cases had been in Germany for several years.
In the Bremen case, according to the Weser Kurier, the arrested Chechen man is part of a larger cell in Bremen of 10-20 ISIS supporters made up of Chechens and German nationals. Since 2014, 28 people have left Bremen to join ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
Earlier this month Der Spiegel reported that nearly 60 former fighters with a Syrian militia, Owais al-Qorani Brigade, which was allied with both Al-Qaeda and ISIS, had sought asylum in Germany after committing large-scale massacres of civilians:
The Spiegel report, citing security agencies, said the group’s members had participated in “numerous massacres of captured civilians and Syrian soldiers.” At least 300 people were killed in such massacre.
German security agencies have reportedly set up a special task force to investigate the group’s members in Germany.
Some 25 former fighters are being investigated, but another 30 unconfirmed members are believed to be in the country, the magazine reported.
One of the members mentioned by Spiegel is a former commander who arrived in the northern German city of Bremen in 2014. He allegedly took part in a massacre at a garbage dump that killed 36 policemen, administrative workers and military officials, and included beheadings.
As I reported here at PJ Media last month, Germany has seen a dozen refugee/immigrant-related terrorist incidents since January 2016.
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) August 2, 2017
The Weser Kurier report cited earlier states that German Federal Criminal Police have categorized 700 people as Islamist threats who are under investigation. The scope of the problem, though, is considerably larger.
"Germany’s domestic intelligence service estimates there are about 10,000 radical Islamists in the country." https://t.co/ZnKIzGTuf6
— Max Abrahms (@MaxAbrahms) July 28, 2017
These mindboggling numbers, however, most likely don’t account for the hundreds of former ISIS fighters now headed back to Europe who all pose a serious threat.
— AFP news agency (@AFP) June 16, 2017
As I noted here several weeks ago, Interpol has sent out a notice based on U.S. intelligence of 173 ISIS terrorists who may be headed to Europe.
But that only scratches the surface of how vast the threat may be from returning ISIS fighters.
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) July 30, 2017
France has seen 271 jihadi militants return: minister https://t.co/HPudKcVGLq
— Reuters Iran (@ReutersIran) August 6, 2017
And lest we think that the U.S. is immune from these issues:
250 Americans have gone to fight for ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
How many have stayed to fight for ISIS here? https://t.co/cXqiDiogm7
— Frank Luntz (@FrankLuntz) June 13, 2016
The arrests in Germany over the past week are just the tip of a jihadist iceberg that, like the Titanic, many European countries are steaming towards.