ISIS training militants to pass refugee application procedures in Europe – report

© Dominic Ebenbichler
Islamic State specifically trains militants to camouflage themselves as ordinary refugees and pass necessary application procedures to be granted asylum in European countries, according to sources in German intelligence.

The terrorist group is teaching militants methods of infiltrating Europe as refugees while not attracting attention from law enforcement agencies, according to a Die Welt report citing Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND). 

In particular, the training is focused on creating the impression of a “classical” asylum seeker in case of interrogation by police officers or questions from fellow migrants, the BND said, choosing not to elaborate on the topic.

Though brief and without details, the newspaper’s article sheds some light on Islamic State’s (IS, previously ISIS/ISIL) tactics for sending terrorists to European countries, deemed a legitimate target by jihadists.

Previous media reports suggested that IS militants tried to blend in with the crowd to go to Europe, and succeeded in some cases, but training future infiltrators in counter-interrogation tactics was not known about until now.

Using credible disguises and behaving appropriately during interrogation after capture by, or contact with, the enemy, are said to be compulsory subjects taught to special forces worldwide. In NATO countries, RTI, or resistance to interrogation, includes techniques of disorienting enemy interrogators about one's true identity or intentions, as well as denying any military background.

In Germany, secret services warn of hundreds of tip-offs leading to refugees with suspected links to terrorist groups including IS. Active members, supporters, sympathizers of terrorist organizations or self-radicalized individuals are very likely to be among asylum seekers coming to the country, the criminal police agency said in late July.

Unlike neighboring France and Belgium, Germany had seen no large-scale terrorist attacks until this summer.

In late July, however, Germany suffered three lone-wolf attacks and a suicide bombing attempt in the space of a week. In all cases, the perpetrators either had direct links to IS or were inspired by radical Islamist teachings.

The latest terror alert came in late September, when a young Syrian man, identified as Jaber Albakr, was caught following a large-scale police operation. “Highly sensitive explosives” were found in his flat. The suspect committed suicide while in custody, according to police.

German intelligence agencies have consistently warned of a rising terrorist threat on the continent, with the challenge being linked to ongoing conflicts in the Middle East.

The defeat of Islamic State in their Iraqi stronghold of Mosul may trigger terrorist attacks across Europe, the head of the German Federal Office for Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Hans-Georg Maassen, said in late October.

The developing situation in and around Mosul “may alert its [IS] supporters in Europe, that it can lead to violent attacks,” the BfV chief warned.