Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 July 2019

Germany says it has lost track of 160 ISIS members

Extremists could sneak back into Europe to carry out attacks, it is feared

More than 1,000 Germans are believed to have joined extremist groups in Syria and Iraq. AP
More than 1,000 Germans are believed to have joined extremist groups in Syria and Iraq. AP

More than 160 Germans who travelled to Iraq and Syria to join ISIS remain unaccounted for, Germany’s government has admitted.

The latter was also slammed for supposedly having “no plan” for dealing with the 120 ISIS members who fled Germany for the Middle East and are held in prisons abroad.

About 1,050 Germans travelled to Iraq and Syria to join terror groups since 2013. Roughly a third have returned and another 220 are thought to have been killed. The rest remain in the region or have moved elsewhere, reported Sunday newspaper Welt am Sonntag.

The figures were revealed after a request to the interior ministry by Linda Teuteberg, secretary general of the Free Democratic Party.

The government said most of the 160 ISIS fighters it has lost track of are probably dead but conceded that “in rare cases, these individuals could have succeeded in escaping and/or disappearing.”

It insisted, however, that “various measures” such as wanted lists would make “uncontrolled re-entry” very difficult.

Thousands of foreign fighters are languishing in jails run by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, who pushed ISIS from its last patches of territory in eastern Syria earlier this year.

Western governments remain fearful that returning ISIS members could launch attacks at home or try to radicalise others.

Some have resorted to stripping extremists of their citizenship.

But Ms Teuteberg said the German government was not doing enough – especially in light of the “very fragmented” EU borders.

“It is particularly worrying that the Federal Government appears to have taken no further measures to prevent the uncontrolled re-entry of submerged IS fighters,” she said.

Ms Teuteberg also hit out at the government for failing to produce a coherent policy on how to deal with foreign fighters.

“This applies to the Germans detained in the conflict zones, as well as the more than 200 former IS supporters who are now back in Germany,” she told Welt am Sonntag

A handful of women and children have, however, been repatriated.

Updated: June 24, 2019 01:27 PM

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