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Return of ISIS Militants to Europe Raises Concerns of New Attacks | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Belgium’s Interior Minister Jan Jambon addresses a news conference in Brussels, February 23, 2016. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Brussels- Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon stated that an agreement has been reached with the Iraqi government in the field of security cooperation, especially regarding providing required information about foreign militants.

The minister commented: “ISIS militants who will be captured in conflict-zones or who are getting ready to return home due to narrowing down on ISIS are the biggest challenge to us. It is essential that we get information in this regard.”

This has been announced once a Belgian governmental delegation – composed of three ministers – returned from its visit to Iraq. On Wednesday, a news conference was held in Brussels on the visit’s outcome.

The return of militants raises concerns not only in Belgium but also in Europe. Two days ago, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani conveyed a strong warning letter that the foreign militants are on the European border awaiting a chance to enter countries of the EU.

The Guardian published an article on its front page titled: “ISIS Faces Exodus of Foreign Fighters as its Caliphate Crumbles”.

The article says that “large numbers of foreign fighters and sympathizers are abandoning ISIS and trying to enter Turkey, with at least two British nationals and a US citizen joining an exodus that is depleting the ranks of the terror group.”

The article added that “Stefan Aristidou, from Enfield in north London, his British wife and Kary Paul Kleman, from Florida, last week surrendered to Turkish border police after more than two years in areas controlled by ISIS, sources have confirmed to the Guardian.”

According to the newspaper, dozens of foreigners have fled in recent weeks, of which most were caught as they tried to cross the frontier, with ISIS’ capacity to hold ground in Syria and Iraq collapsing.

The newspaper article narrated that Kleman converted to Islam after his divorce from his first wife, according to his mother, and moved to Egypt in 2011 where he married an Egyptian woman. After that marriage collapsed, he moved to Dubai and married his current wife, who is Syrian and they had three children.

According to the Guardian, he traveled to Syria to help with humanitarian efforts. However, after arriving in Syria Kleman said he realized that the information that had led him there “was all scam”.

Western intelligence agencies believe that there are prominent members of the group’s external operations arm who joined ISIS from numerous European countries including Britain, France, and Belgium, as well as Australia. The US government estimates that 25,000 militants were killed since launching military operations against ISIS strongholds in the autumn of 2014.