International police agencies have growing concerns that radical Islamists are exploiting the migrant crisis to smuggle themselves into Europe and even fund jihad, as figures show new influx is round the corner.
In joint report, Interpol and its European counterpart said that extremists have made $6 billion (£4.1 billion) by turning the unprecedented flow of migrants into one of the biggest sources of income for organised crime in Europe.
“Terrorists may use migrant smugglers’ resources to achieve their goals,” the report said.
“There is a growing concern that illegal immigration routes and networks may be used by radicalised foreign fighters wishing to return to the EU, or by terrorist organisations as a source of funding for their activities.”
This will only get worse, the report adds, as in the near future “an increase in the number of migrants trying to reach the EU is expected.”
“In Libya alone, around 800,000 migrants are waiting to travel to the EU,” it said.
While there do not appear to be any regular links between criminal gangs and jihadi groups “some incidents have been identified involving terrorists who have made use of migratory flows to enter the EU.”
Each migrant, the report said, had “paid an average of $3,200 to 6,500 (€3,000- 6,000)”.
“This would result in an average turnover of $5 to 6 billion in 2015.”
At least two of the attackers behind last November’s Paris terror attacks entered Europe through Greece as part of the huge migrant influx
Rob Wainwright, director of Europol, said: “More than 90 per cent of all migrants reaching the European Union use the facilitation services of a migrant smuggling network at some point throughout their journey.
“This is a clear indication that organised crime networks are profiting from mass migration.”
In February, two men were arrested in Austria accused of planning more terror attacks in France after smuggling themselves into Europe posing as refugees.
The men were arrested at a migrant centre near the city of Salzburg on suspicion of belonging to a terror group after they were stopped by border guards who discovered they had fake Syrian passports.
Although they ended up in Salzburg, reports suggest they were really heading to Paris where they hoped to launch more attacks.