• Germany's news in English

More than 6,000 have left Europe for Isis jihad: EU

AFP/The Local · 13 Apr 2015, 11:26

Published: 13 Apr 2015 11:26 GMT+02:00
Updated: 13 Apr 2015 11:26 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"At the European level, we estimate that 5,000 to 6,000 individuals have left for Syria," the Justice Commissioner told Le Figaro in an interview, adding that the true number was likely to be far higher due to the difficulty of tracking foreign fighters in the conflict.

"At the time of the attacks in Paris and Copenhagen, we decided not to allow ourselves to be guided by fear," she said, referring to January's twin Islamist attacks in the French capital and the subsequent deadly shootings on a cultural centre in Denmark.

Focusing on those seeking to leave for Syria to wage jihad, or those returning from the conflict, meant intervening "too late", she said.

Jourová said the EU instead wanted to promote prevention as a means of curtailing the steady flow of European nationals, looking at the diverse reasons why people joined jihadist groups beyond simply religion.

British research had identified "a desire for adventure, boredom, dissatisfaction with their situation in life or a lack of prospects," in those who had opted to leave their families behind and head for Syria, the commissioner said.

Another focus for the EU was speeding up the exchange of information between the police forces and court systems of member states, she said, with more intelligence sharing required.

The self-proclaimed Islamic State (Isis), which rules a swathe of territory in Syria and Iraq it has deemed an Islamic "caliphate", has attracted thousands of foreign fighters, many from the West.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said last month that about 650 Germans have joined Isis fighters in Iraq and Syria.

Story continues below…

Some 106 returnees suspected of having fought alongside IS jihadists are being investigated in Germany in 68 preliminary or criminal inquiries, chief federal prosecutor Harald Range told reporters last month.

Germany also has one of the highest numbers of fighters travelling to Syria and Iraq to join extremist groups, according to the most recent data from January by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR), along with the United Kingdom and France.

Per capita, though, more have left Belgium, Denmark and Sweden for combat zones in Syria and Iraq, according to the ICSR estimates.
The German domestic intelligence service (BfV) reported in its most recent data from 2013 that there are an estimated 30 different Islamist groups throughout the country.
More than 215,000 people have been killed in Syria's four-year war, which is increasingly dominated by jihadist groups.

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German towns, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd