Wednesday

26th Jun 2019

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

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. EU universities to share students, curricula
  2. Migrant rescue ship loses Human Rights Court appeal
  3. Denmark completes social democrat sweep of Nordics
  4. Johnson offers 'do or die' pledge on Brexit
  5. Weber indirectly attacks Macron in newspaper op-ed
  6. EU to sign free trade deal with Vietnam
  7. EU funding of air traffic control 'largely unnecessary'
  8. Share trading ban looms as Swiss row with EU escalates

Stalling on VAT reform costing billions, says Commission

German media outlet Correctiv, along with other newsrooms, have revealed how criminals annually cheat EU states out of billions in VAT fraud. The EU Commission says solutions exist - but member states refuse to budge on tax unanimity.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  4. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  6. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  7. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  8. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  9. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate

Latest News

  1. EU parliament gives extra time for leaders on top jobs
  2. Europe's rights watchdog lifts Russia sanctions
  3. EU-Vietnam trade deal a bad day for workers' rights
  4. EU 'special envoy' going to US plan for Palestine
  5. Polish judicial reforms broke EU law, court says
  6. EU study: no evidence of 'East vs West' food discrimination
  7. Russia tried to stir up Irish troubles, US think tank says
  8. Babis unmoved by EU scam allegations

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us