Michele Coninsx, the chief of the European Union’s agency that investigates terrorism, told the media that she has been given reports of ISIS-linked terrorists making their way into Europe on boats also carrying migrants.
She said that she received the reports as part of an ongoing effort to coordinate EU member states’s response to the growing migrant crisis. She also said that groups like ISIS are using money earned through illegal trafficking to fund terrorism across the globe.
“It is an alarming situation because we see obviously that these smugglings are meant to sometimes finance terrorism and that these smugglings are used sometimes to have and ensure infiltrations by members of the Islamic State,” Coninsx said.
In the first quarter of 2015, 185,000 migrants sought asylum in the European Union. That number is an 86 percent rise over the figures from 2014.
A majority of asylum seekers come from nations plagued by Islamic terrorism and sectarian conflict, such as Syria and Afghanistan. Many migrants also cross from Africa to Europe, landing in Italy and other Mediterranean countries.
The flood of immigrants from North Africa is increasingly seen as a threat to security in the EU because ISIS has been able to secure a foothold in the Libyan coastal town of Sirte.
ISIS fighters from Tunisia, Egypt, and other countries are flocking to help their affiliate in Libya cement their position, in order to use Libya as a staging ground for attacks across the Mediterranean.
Coninsx was very clear with reporters that here agency would not turn to inaction in response to this growing threat.
“We’re going after the criminals. We’re going after the money,” she said.
Earlier this year, Wikileaks published documents that allegedly show EU defense officials preparing for a drawn-out conflict with ISIS, including preparing for the possibility that ISIS terrorists would sneak into Europe with migrants.
“The potential presence of hostile forces, extremists, or terrorists such as Da’esh [the Arabic name for ISIS] should be taken into consideration,” when interacting with migrant vessels, the report recommended.
In May, Eurosceptic firebrand Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, warned members of the European Parliament that ISIS would attempt to exploit the migrant situation.
“There is a real and genuine threat [to Europe]. When ISIS say they want to flood our continent with half a million Islamic extremists, they mean it. There is nothing in [the EU’s plan to deal with the migrant crisis] that will stop those people from coming.”