Aug 24, 2016

Hungarian authorities are helping the fight against Islamic extremists

There have been a number of cases where extremists have been smuggled through Europe into Middle Eastern war zones

Hungarian authorities are aiding the international policing efforts of illegal immigrants in order to protect Europe's citizens from Islamic extremists.

In November, Hungarian police arrested two Islamic militants from east London who slipped out of Britain and surfaced on a Romania-bound train. They pleaded guilty in a UK court to breaking a travel ban imposed for terror-related crimes.

The Wall Street Journal reports that UK police, faced with stopping what they say is an unprecedented flow of British extremists to and from the Middle East, last year intercepted unusual contraband in a truck bound for a crossing point into France: a Muslim extremist seeking passage to Syria to join Islamic State.

British authorities have confronted the problem of local extremists heading to conflict zones in the Middle East since 2012, when jihadists gained ground in Syria and called on Muslims elsewhere to join them.

That has led to near-daily arrests, officials say. On Monday, counterterrorism police in London said they had detained a 20-year-old woman and a 16-year-old girl on suspicion of planning to travel to Syria to join extremists.

People smuggling has become a big problem, not only in Hungary but all over Europe. Some have turned to criminals who usually smuggle illegal immigrants into Britain for help to reach conflict zones.

The number of those would-be jihadists arrested and convicted for trying to reach Syria in this manner remains in single figures, but security experts say the clandestine nature of the operations makes it hard to keep a tally.

The UK government said it “has taken a number of steps to strengthen our border and otherwise prevent travel by suspected terrorists.”

UK authorities in May caught an Iraqi asylum seeker on a France-bound truck seeking to join Islamic State, according to prosecutors. The man faces trial later this year; his lawyer said he would plead not guilty.
Hungarian police in November arrested the two previously mentioned Islamic militants who broke a travel ban to traverse Hungary to reach Syria.

How much is at stake is illustrated by the case of Briton Mohammed Emwazi, who gained infamy as the masked “Jihadi John” in Islamic State videos. Mr. Emwazi, an extremist who was known to U.K. authorities, slipped out of a U.K. ferry port on a truck in 2012, said a person familiar with the matter.

He arrived in Syria and appeared in videos showing decapitated hostages, including a 2014 video depicting the killing of American journalist James Foley . A U.S. drone strike killed him last year.

There are also a number of other cases where extremists have been smuggled through Europe into Middle Eastern countries. It's becoming a real problem, and EU countries on the external borders of the Schengen Area, member states like Hungary, confront a growing challenge in halting the trafficking.

Read more here.