The secretary general of INTERPOL, the international police organization, has warned that Europe is being threatened by what he called ISIS 2.0, a new wave of Islamic jihadists.
“We could soon be facing a second wave of other Islamic State linked or radicalized individuals that you might call ISIS 2.0,” said Jurgen Stock. “A lot of these are suspected terrorists or those who are linked to terrorist groups as supporters who are facing maybe two to five years in jail.”
Soeren Kern, a senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute, confirmed there are hundreds of terrorist suspects in Austria, France, Germany and other European countries.
Stock said that because they “were not convicted of a concrete terrorist attack but only support for terrorist activities, their sentences are perhaps not so heavy.”
“In many parts of the world, in Europe but also Asia, this generation of early supporters will be released in the next couple of years, and they may again be part of a terrorist group or those supporting terrorist activities,” he said.
Kern listed the known threats country by country.
In Austria, for example, some 320 people are known to have gone to war in Syria and Iraq, with about 100 known to have returned.
“On October 18, a court in Graz sentenced four Turkish jihadis to prison terms ranging from five months to seven years for recruiting for the Islamic State,” he wrote. “The men were all members of a mosque in Linz. Prosecutors explained how mosques across Austria are working together in their support for the Islamic State. ‘We must stop with false tolerance,’ said the Graz prosecutor. ‘Islamism supplants the rule of law if we are not careful. Do not be afraid to impose severe punishments.'”
In Denmark, authorities are trying to strip Danish citizenship from at least 158 people who joined jihadist organizations.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian recently traveled to Iraq to convince the government in Baghdad to prosecute French jihadis but was rejected.
That means at least some of the 200 adults in custody for possible terror-related activities may be returning to France.
One anti-terror judge in France wants them returned rather than left “in the wilderness.”
“How can we protect ourselves if we do not have them in custody? The best method is to judge and control them,” wrote Judge David De Pas.
“If in 15, 20, 30 years, these people still pose a threat when leaving prison, they will remain under the control of the intelligence and justice services,” he said. “If they are tried in Iraq, we will not be able to monitor them when they leave prison.”
Kern reported that in Italy, some 140 Italian citizens or residents have traveled to fight in war zones in the Middle East and 26 have returned.
“Although the numbers are low in comparison to France and other European countries, Italy’s geographic location makes it vulnerable to jihadis who cross the Mediterranean Sea and enter Europe posing as refugees,” he wrote.
INTERPOL recently found during a six-week operation that more than a dozen suspected foreign terrorist fighters crossed the Mediterranean Sea.
Dutch authorities reported dozens of citizens had taken part in ISIS campaigns, and they are seeking to revoke citizenship as punishment.
However, the application has been inconsistent, and some suspected of jihadist tendencies even have had their citizenship restored, the report said.
Norwegian authorities are working on a directive preventing foreign nationals with Norwegian residency who are associated with ISIS from entering.
“These are people who pose a serious security threat to our lives and our values,” said Justice Minister Joran Kallmyr. “They will not return with Norwegian help.”
Dozens of jihadis who had been with ISIS in the Middle East have returned to Spain, and hundreds more may be headed that direction, the report said. There have been multiple court cases alleging financing or support for ISIS.
In Switzerland, more than 100 police officers in Bern, Schaffhausen and Zurich raided the homes of 11 jihadis suspected of being members of al-Qaida and ISIS.
Some 850 British jihadis fought in Iraq and Syria and possible one-half returned to the United Kingdom.
Officials say their concern is for the safety of the U.K. and its people, not supporters of ISIS.
They “should wherever possible face justice for their crimes in the most appropriate jurisdiction, which will often be in the region where their offenses have been committed.”
In the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently criticized the issuing of short sentences for such convicts.
“I think that the practice of automatic, early release where you cut a sentence in half and let really serious, violent offenders out early simply isn’t working, and you’ve some very good evidence of how that isn’t working, I am afraid,” he said.
Some 1,200 jihadis are in Turkish prisons, and authorities there are working to return them to their European homes.
Kern reported: “The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the November 29 jihadi attack at London Bridge, where a Pakistani Islamist stabbed two people to death and injured three others. The suspect, 28-year-old Usman Kahn, a convicted terrorist, was subsequently shot dead by police.”
He said Khan had been sentenced for other acts of terror to an indeterminate sentence but courts reduced it to eight years.
So he was released from prison after agreeing to wear an electronic tag.
The report noted at least nine jihadist attacks have been foiled by police in Germany alone since the beginning of 2017.