“ZDF Heute,” a leading news program on German TV, reported, on January 25, 2016, that terrorists are using the asylum channel to enter countries where they plan to carry out terrorist attacks. The German news program mentioned three recent cases. The first case was the terrorist attacks in Paris, on November 13, 2015. Among the perpetrators were two terrorists who entered Greece as asylum seekers and then traveled to France via the so-called Balkan route. They carried forged Syrian passports in the names of Ahmad al-Mohammad and Mohammad al-Mahmod. They arrived on the Greek island of Leros, on October 3, 2016, where their fingerprints had been taken.
ISIS later glorified the Paris attackers in the manifesto “Black Flags From the Islamic State.” This manifesto, quoted by John Rossomando in IPT News, describes how “the plotters evaded detection by Western intelligence.” “This has shocked the intelligence agencies and many European countries are thinking about closing their borders so future Mujahideen cannot escape to neighboring countries.” The only attacker who survived was Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian-Moroccan national from Brussels. John Rossomando adds: “Black Flags From the Islamic State brags that Abaaoud slipped in and out of Europe hiding among the refugees traveling through Turkey into Greece and then deeper into the continent.” This was shortly before the terrorist attacks in Paris.
The second case, mentioned by ZDF Heute, was the terrorist attack on two policemen in Paris on January 7, 2016 – exactly one year after the terrorist attacks on the satirical Paris weekly Charlie Hebdo. The perpetrator entered a police station, wove a meat cleaver and shouted “Allahu Akhbar.” The police killed him just in time. He was wearing a fake explosive belt and possessed a letter with an ISIS flag printed on it. This man had been registered as an asylum seeker in the German town of Recklinghausen. He was known there as “Walid Salihi from Hama,” Syria. But he used a number of other fake identities, claiming to be Moroccan, Tunisian or Georgian. He had a huge crime record and was known as an ISIS sympathizer in the asylum seekers center of Recklinghausen. Yet, the overburdened police failed to monitor him closely, with fatal consequences. Using at least eight identities, he had applied for asylum several times and there was nobody who raised the alarm. In fact, he was a Tunisian immigrant who turned out to be a criminal and a terrorist.
The third case, mentioned by the editors of ZDF Heute, was the terrorist attack which killed ten German tourists in Istanbul’s famous Sultan Ahmet Square on January 12, 2016. The perpetrator, Nabil Fadli, was an ISIS suicide bomber who had crossed the border from Syria to Turkey, just one week before, and had been registered as a refugee, shortly after his arrival. Fadli was originally from Saudi Arabia and lived in an area of Syria which was, and still is, under ISIS control. The Wall Street Journal quotes Turkish officials who said that the Islamic State suicide bomber “registered here (in Istanbul, V.) as a refugee without setting off security alerts – even though his brother had blown himself up in Syria.” “The revelation highlighted concerns that extremists are using the migrant crisis to cross borders and carry out terrorist attacks.” ZDF Heute claims that four other men accompanied Nabil Fadli but their whereabouts are unknown.
The German news program interviewed Berlin terrorism expert Guido Steinberg, author of an excellent study on “Al-Qaedas Deutsche Kämpfer” (Al-Qaeda’s German Fighters). “There is a fair chance that other terrorists will enter the country without being detected,” Steinberg warned. “There is no better way for ISIS to do this but by using the Balkan route.” ZDF Heute claims that there are now 5,000 European jihadists who have joined dangerous terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq, a huge number. The security services and the police are overwhelmed. They were unable to prevent the above mentioned terrorist attacks. These jihadists pose a very serious security risk as it is impossible to monitor all of them.
The Dutch weekly Elsevier reported, on December 3, 2015, that a Syrian asylum seeker had been arrested in the Dutch city of Zaandam, near Amsterdam. This asylum seeker reportedly told other asylum seekers that he was an Islamic State fighter.
The same weekly quoted “Elias,” a 22-year-old Eritrean asylum seeker in Holland, who said that migrant traffickers in Greece offered forged passports to those willing to pay 7,000 euros. (Elias not his real name.) These asylum seekers would then be able to fly directly to Holland.
Elias speaks Arabic, as he and his family previously lived in the Syrian capital of Damacus. Very interesting is a conversation among “refugees” that he overheard when he was still on the Greek island of Kos: “I heard how a group of refugees who were IS-fighters were having a conversation among themselves. They didn’t like the war any longer and fled. All of them went to Germany. From that moment I knew that I didn’t want to go to Germany myself.”
Elias is a Christian who is concerned about the threat posed by radical Muslims. He is now learning Dutch; however, he soon noticed that other asylum seekers from Eritrea and Somalia were not interested in learning the Dutch language. “Instead, they wanted to learn Arabic,” Elias said. “They asked us how you pronounce the word ‘Damascus.’ By pretending to be Syrians, they think that they have a better chance of being accepted by the immigration authorities.”
Elias could be a genuine asylum seeker. But many other Eritrean asylum seekers are sent to Europe and the United States by the despicable Eritrean regime and are causing serious problems in Holland, Germany, France, Sweden and Britain. They are forced to pay extortion money to agents of the Eritrean regime abroad, or to embassy, or consular officials. The British International Business Times reported, on February 10, 2014, that the “Eritrea dictatorship extorts millions of pounds in ‘diaspora tax’ scam.” The regime collects “a 2% income tax on Eritrean nationals living abroad.” Critics of the regime have frequently been intimidated.
Elias told Elsevier two important things. Firstly, he said that it is easy to buy forged passports in Greece and, secondly, he overheard a conversation among ISIS fighters who planned to apply for asylum in Germany. The Dutch news program, RTL4 News, recently reported that thousands of Lebanese citizens bought forged Syrian passports and entered Europe posing as Syrian refugees. European governments are unable, or unwilling, to do anything about it. Criminals and terrorists, also from North Africa, take advantage of the current migration crisis in Europe. Therefore, more terrorist attacks carried out by asylum seekers are surely to follow.
Emerson Vermaat is an investigative reporter in the Netherlands. Website: www.emersonvermaat.com.