Returning IS fighters a concern along Balkan migration route, says Italian police chief

Source: Xinhua| 2019-05-18 02:33:28|Editor: Mu Xuequan
Video PlayerClose

ROME, May 17 (Xinhua) -- The so-called foreign fighters escaping the Middle East after the defeat of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group could hide among refugees and asylum seekers along the Balkan migration route, Italy's National Police Chief Franco Gabrielli told an international law enforcement summit here on Friday.

The annual summit, called the Rome Forum, now in its sixth edition, brought together delegations from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, the Republic of North Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Hungary, plus Europol Deputy Executive Director and Head of the Operations Directorate Wil van Gemert, Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock, Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri, and Snejana Maleeva, the director general of the Southeast European Law Enforcement Center (SELEC), state police said in a statement.

"While there has been a significant drop in migration flows along the Mediterranean route, we have seen a resumption (of migration) along the Balkan route," Italian news agency ANSA quoted Gabrielli as saying.

"This phenomenon in connection with the fall of IS is cause for concern for the security of Italy and Europe, because a flow of foreign fighters is possible, and in some cases probable," he added.

Foreign fighters are European citizens who joined the extremist group IS in Syria and Iraq.

Vittorio Rizzi, deputy chief of the National Police, told summit participants that cooperation and information-sharing with Balkan countries is essential to fighting terrorism and busting mafia organizations, which cooperate across borders, ANSA reported.

At the summit, Italy proposed the setting up of a Single Point of Contact (SPOC) network in the Balkans so that law enforcement organizations can share information more efficiently, and also set up cross-agency task forces to combat migrant smugglers, terrorists, and organized crime groups, the police statement said.