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EU Official: Militants’ Fate Ultimately Unknown in Post-ISIS Era | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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European Union’s Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove is seen during an interview with Reuters in his office in Brussels, Belgium December 2, 2016. (REUTERS / Alastair Macdonald)

Brussels- European Union’s Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove noted in a former interview that terrorism has spread its way through a number of EU states. Warnings of imminent attacks have become a predominant feature in all statements made by EU officials and reports, with the last being a paper put forward by the EU law enforcement agency, Europol.

It was only logical that in such dire times, de Kerchove will be referred to for developments on counterterrorism efforts and international collaborations.

Nevertheless, de Kerchove said they are almost done fixing the loopholes in Europe that ISIS may use in its planned attacks. The difficult task that they have to achieve right now is to address the grievances of the Muslims in Iraq and Syria.

Threats against Europe, now more than ever, are complex and diverse—particularly in the wake of the Paris, Brussels and other attacks witnessed. Threats are expected to grow further during the coming months, especially after the recent Mosul incidents in Iraq, and in Syria.

The collapse of the terror group’s self-proclaimed caliphate will backlash against Europe and other countries, de Kerchove said.

Speaking frankly, de Kerchove admitted that the events to come in case of the combatants’ fate and predicted return remain in the blue.

Inflows of foreign fighters will surge as they seek returning to their home countries, taking the chances at staging terrorist attacks, he explained.

However, there has been intensive work over the last three years in Europe. The efforts recommend and look into any possibility given to close former loopholes weakening union states’ security.

Remarkable progress has been registered in the field of scaling down vulnerabilities, but the highest degree of vigilance and preparedness is still in order, de Kerchove added.

Speaking on estimates of how many European fighters are currently present in areas of conflict and pose future security risks should they return to EU territory, de Kerchove placed the figure somewhere around 2,500 militants accounted for in both Syria and Iraq .

Shockingly, among the 5,000 Europeans who have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join the hardliner group ISIS, at least 35 percent have made their way back while 50 percent are still in the battlefield, the EU report warned.

“Some might prefer to stay in the area of conflict, others might move within the area and attempt to go off the records or escape to neighboring countries…some might go to other areas of conflict, or what we call hot spots such as Libya,” de kerchove said.

Nonetheless, de Kerchove did not rule out the chances of a number of the fighters rolling back into European countries, and highlighted the undying efforts poured into preemptive security measures.