In response to the shooting on May 24 at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, the German interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, has said there will be closer cooperation between European Union states against fighters returning from Syria, after the suspected gunman travelled unhindered through Germany and France on his way to Brussels despite authorities at Frankfurt airport issuing a security alert.
On May 30 police in Marseille arrested Mehdi Nemmouche, a Franco-Algerian who had returned to France by way of Germany after fighting with a jihadist group in Syria, on suspicion of the shooting in Brussels which left three dead and one in hospital “clinically dead.”
Today de Maizière said that officials of the federal police passport control at Frankfurt airport made Nemmouche the subject of a “covert security check” and alerted French authorities, according to a report in Die Welt.
Yet Nemmouche was left free to carry out the Brussels terrorist attack. The German minister questioned whether giving covert alerts between agencies was the best way of control: “Is it not perhaps better to stop these people?”
He was speaking in Luxembourg on Thursday ahead of two days of meetings with other EU justice and home affairs ministers. On the agenda with other issues was “foreign fighters and returnees from a counter-terrorism perspective, in particular with regard to Syria,” according to a Council press statement.
Ministers concluded that “This attack [in Brussels] is an illustration of the need for all the concerted actors to step up cooperation, especially in the field of information exchange.”
As Breitbart London reported on June 1 Nemmouche’s time in Syria has made French and Belgian officials question how to monitor potential jihadist extremists who travel to Syria and return “radicalized” by terrorist elements fighting in the civil war against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
According to Die Welt, de Maizière said that so far were “several hundred” European jihadists who had come back to Europe. Many “will never again take a gun in his hand. But others are here battle-tested and determined…planning attacks.” Around 320 Islamists from Germany have travelled to Syria, according to current status.
Many of the Syrian fighters from Europe have EU passports and therefore difficult to control once they are inside the Schengen Area, a group of 26 European countries that have abolished passport controls.