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Isis fighters posing as refugees are being smuggled to Europe on migrant boats, report says

Militants have reportedly seized control of boats leaving northern Africa, taking a profit and smuggling their own members on board

Jessica Ware
Sunday 17 May 2015 09:13 BST
Isis fighters are taking advantage of the migrant boat crisis in the Mediterranean
Isis fighters are taking advantage of the migrant boat crisis in the Mediterranean

Isis militants are posing as refugees and being smuggled into Europe across the Mediterranean, it has been reported.

Islamic State fighters are taking advantage of the current migrant crisis in the Mediterranean by joining overfilled boats leaving northern Africa for Europe, according to government advisor Abdul Basit Haroun.

He told BBC 5 live Investigates that he had spoken to boat owners in areas controlled by Isis.

They told him that militants were profiting from the dangerous journey across the sea by demanding half of people smugglers’ incomes in exchange for allowing them to keep operating – and to take fighters with them.

In an interview broadcast on Sunday, Mr Haroun said that the boats were used “for their people who they want to send to Europe, as the European police don't know who is from IS and who is a normal refugee or not.”

"The boat owners have a list of who to take but some people come suddenly and they're told, 'take them with you.' They sit down separately, and in the boat they are not scared at all.

"They are for IS – 100 per cent. I think they do something for planning in future, not for today or tomorrow."

The claims come after warnings issued earlier in the year by EU border control agency Frontex that extremists may try to come into the country via irregular migration routes.

Indeed, the journey from North Africa to Europe is not a simple one – with 3,500 people dying on the crossing in 2014 alone. So far this year 1,800 have died, which is 20-fold increase on the same time period the year before, according to the UN Refugee Agency.

Prosecutors leading the investigation into migrant trafficking confirmed to the Mail on Sunday that Isis was charging boat owners to operate. They added that they were “investigating the possibility” of foreign fighters hiding on the boats.

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