Turkish help ‘essential’ says EU anti-terror report
ISTANBUL – Anadolu AgencyAn EU counter-terrorism report that was set to be presented to European interior ministers on Dec. 9 said cooperation with Turkey and other regional countries is “essential.”
The EU’s counter-terror coordinator, Gilles de Kerchove, was set to tell ministers that hundreds of foreign terrorist fighters have returned to Europe from war-torn countries like Iraq and Syria.
Between 2,000 and 2,500 more - around 50 percent of all foreign terrorists - remain in conflict zones like Syria.
“Those being currently sent back to Europe by Daesh to commit attacks are naturally regarded as a threat to security and a number of those have been involved in recent terrorist attacks and foiled acts,” the report stated, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
It also warns that those who have remained and survived in war zones are now “dangerous and battle-hardened.”
To combat the threat posed by these terrorists, the report recommended better collaboration between Brussels and Ankara, including “regular coordination meetings in Turkey and exchange of experience.”
The report also recommended “strengthening dialogue with Turkey on returnees,” particularly on specific issues such as information exchange, expulsions of returning foreign fighters and on escorting such suspects home.
It also confirmed that Turkey and Europe are developing polices in an anti-ISIL working group, which “should inform the EU’s approach to working with Turkey on the returnees file.”
Last December, then Turkish Interior Minister Efkan Ala told state-run Anadolu Agency that Turkey had stopped thousands of terror suspects heading for Syria.
Most suspects were stopped from entering Turkey at the border, while nearly 2,800 were arrested and later deported, Ala had said.
“Turkey has denied entry to 33,746 people from 123 countries suspected of joining terror activities in Syria,” he added.