Source: ARA News
ISTANBUL – Since the emergence of the extremist Islamic State group (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria, thousands of westerners have joined its ranks. The Western governments expressed fear of the returnee jihadists, who could carry out attacks against European and American interests in their countries.
Dozens of ISIS jihadists have infiltrated into European countries and have recently installed a “secret base” in the Balkans, a Croatian official has said.
The terror group has been able to organize dozens of militants in Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
According to Croatian intelligence, a group of ISIS foreign militants, who are originally from the Balkans, have returned back to their native countries.
“We have identified an ISIS senior member who most probably organize dozens of Balkan jihadists,” the official said on the condition of anonymity.
Since 2012, hundreds of ISIS jihadists crossed the border into Syria and Iraq coming from the former Soviet republics.
The source said that the ongoing refugee crisis may have facilitated the influx of ISIS sleeper cells into the heart of Europe.
“Many of them may have sought asylum as Syrians,” he added
In June, ISIS circulated a footage on the social media, showing a group of Balkan fighters in Syria, vowing their own government and the American interests with suicide attacks.
The former Soviet countries are deemed to be vulnerable to radicalism.
More than 1,500 Caucasian militants are fighting alongside the hardline group in Syria and Iraq, Russian local media quoted officials as saying.
Syrian civil rights activist Ahmed Mall, based in the ISIS-held city of Raqqa, told ARA News that the number of fighters from the former Soviet Union countries joining the ISIS ranks is continuously increasing, and that many of them have married with Syrian women, especially in the city of al-Bab in Syria’s Aleppo province.
“ISIS leadership pays a lot of attention to such fighters, granting them commanding positions, due to their previous expertise in street wars,” the source added.
Noteworthy, many videos published by ISIS group verified the existence of a significant number of Northern Territory fighters (Caucasus) who are engaged in battles in Syria and Iraq. Some of them occupy high-ranking positions, unlike other foreign jihadists in the ranks of the radical group.
More than 20,000 foreign fighters are currently active in Syria and Iraq, where extremists of ISIS have taken over large areas, the U.N. says.