According to U.S. intelligence czar James Clapper, the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) has clandestine terror cells that are operational in Italy, as well as in Germany and England, and his remarks have created a state of unrest in Italy.
At a Christian Science Monitor breakfast Monday, the Director of National Intelligence said it is clear that ISIS is taking advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis, and acknowledged that European Union goals of open borders and free movement among member states clashes with the efforts of individual nations to guarantee the safety of their own citizens.
The former Marine rifleman said that European Union attempts to maintain free passage of people and goods across borders “is in some ways in conflict with the responsibilities that each country has as a nation-state to protect the borders and securities of their nations and peoples.”
When asked point-blank whether the Islamic State had clandestine cells currently operating in European countries, including Germany and Italy, Clapper answered directly.
“Yes, they do,” he said, citing better coordination of the intelligence community in Europe. “We continue to see evidence on the part of ISIL in the countries you name.”
Italian intelligence was quick to deny a new state of alert, though they recognized that Italy and the Vatican are exposed to a high risk of terror attacks. Nonetheless, Italian counterterrorism authorities insisted that at the moment, there is no evidence of a planned jihadist attack on Italian soil.
Austrian Defense Minister Hans Peter Doskozil recently stated he would be prepared to completely shut down the historic Brenner Pass at the Italy-Austria border if Italy does not start controlling its migrant problem.
By continuing to route its migrants to Brenner and failing to take back those rejected by Austria, Italy is converting the Austrian Tyrol district into an enormous “waiting room,” Doskozil said.
If this continues, “we will ask Italy to allow us to step in and take control on its territory,” he warned. They are even ready, “in an extreme case,” to close the borders, he said.
Not long after Doskozil’s announcement, a Swiss government official declared that it is considering stationing a tank battalion to secure its southern border with Italy, in preparation for a new onslaught of migrants.
“We expect a significant increase in the number of refugees this summer. If Austria now closes off the Brenner Pass, Switzerland will become the only gateway to Northern Europe. Before that, we have to protect ourselves,” said Norman Gobbi, the security director of the Swiss Canton of Ticino.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter Follow @tdwilliamsrome.