The recent loss of its so-called “caliphate” will cripple the Islamic State group but the terror threat posed by the extremists is not over yet, the European Union’s counter-terrorism coordinator said.
Gilles de Kerchove says that there hasn’t been a massive flow of IS fighters returning to Europe as many had feared following the group’s loss of territory in Syria and Iraq, adding that the intelligence services describe the fighters’ return as “more a trickle than a flow.”
However, people inspired by the ideology remain a threat and the group is likely to entrench in other parts of world with “weak governance” such as Libya or Afghanistan, the EU official said.
“With no physical ‘caliphate’ anymore, it will be much more difficult for the organization to repeat what they have done and attract so many people,” de Kerchove said. “That does not mean that the game is over. We still have to address the ideology. More and more, we see in Europe (people) inspired by terrorism, home-grown terrorism.”
He said Islamic State “will probably develop in one way or the other in some parts where you have weak governance. Either more weak governance like in Libya or Afghanistan or where it’s more difficult to police, like in the Sinai.”
An attack on a mosque in Egypt’s northern Sinai region last week killed more than 300 people.