Monday

24th Apr 2017

Iraq fighting could bring jihadists to Europe, commissioner warns

  • King: return of foreign fighters from Iraq "is a threat we must be prepared to face". (Photo: European Commission)

The Iraqi army's attempt to recapture the city of Mosul from the Islamic State militant group could spark a return of jihadist fighters to Europe, the EU security union commissioner has warned.


"This is a threat we must be prepared to face," Julian King said in an interview to Germany's Die Welt published on Tuesday.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Mosul, part of Iraq's autonomous Kurd region, has been a stronghold of the militant group since June 2014. A large-scale operation was launched on Monday (17 October) by Iraqi and Kurdish forces to retake the 1.5 million strong city.

On Tuesday morning, Kurdish regional leader Masoud Barzani said 200 sq km of land had already been taken.

King however said that he did not expect a "mass exodus" of IS fighters if the city falls, but that "even a small number represents a serious threat".

He said around 2,500 fighters in the Mosul area had come from Europe, and that past experience, especially in the Afghan war, shows that not all foreign fighters go back to their country after they are defeated.

"Some are killed in combat or look for another fighting scene," he said.

The security commissioner, who took office at the end of September, said the EU should "give terrorists always less opportunities to act".

He said it was currently "too easy" to dodge passport controls at EU borders and that the EU should also be able to check authenticity of birth and marriage certificates whose information is used to make passports and visas to enter the EU.

Spy agencies launch 'real-time' terror tracker

Intelligence agencies in Europe launched an "interactive operative real-time information system" in July to collect data on jihadist suspects, EUobserver has learned.

King to become UK's last EU commissioner

British diplomat put forward "intelligent" security plan to a half-empty EP committee, but refused to speculate on Brexit in his three-hour hearing.

US expert warns EU on returning jihadists

Jihadists who left Europe to fight In Iraq and Syria will come back in greater numbers as Islamic State loses territory, a former US security chief has warned.

News in Brief

  1. Italy misses deadline on air quality warning
  2. Land mine kills OSCE observer in Ukraine
  3. Italy prosecutor claims NGOs are working with migrant smugglers
  4. Danish defence hacked by Russian cyberspies
  5. EU trade commissioner in US to pick up TTIP talks
  6. Juncker to meet Soros on Hungary next week
  7. Timmermans praises Romania's anti-corruption measures
  8. Trump says 'strong Europe' is good for the US

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  2. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  3. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  4. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  5. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  6. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  7. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region and the US: A Time of Warlike Rhetoric and Militarisation?
  9. European Free AllianceEFA MEPs Vote in Favor of European Parliament's Brexit Mandate
  10. Mission of China to the EUXinhua Insight: China to Open up Like Never Before
  11. World VisionViolence Becomes New Normal for Syrian Children
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsTime to Turn the Tide and End Repression of Central Asia's Civil Society

Latest News

  1. Les fake news inondent les réseaux sociaux français
  2. Les amis de Le Pen à la Trump Tower
  3. France's election run-off will be far-right versus EU
  4. Alternative for Germany party refuses to shun extreme right
  5. Brexit summit, Turkey and Hungary dominate EU This WEEK
  6. Russia threat triggers European military spending hike
  7. Voters 'change face' of French politics
  8. France holds nail-biting 'anti-system' vote