IS Militants Smuggled to Europe

IS Militants Smuggled to EuropeIS Militants Smuggled to Europe

Islamic State militants are being smuggled into Europe by gangs in the Mediterranean, an adviser to the Libyan government said on Sunday.

Abdul Basit Haroun said smugglers were hiding IS militants on boats filled with migrants. Officials in Italy and Egypt have previously warned that IS militants could reach Europe by migrant boat, BBC reported.

However, experts have cautioned that it is very difficult to verify or assess such claims.

Haroun based his claim on conversations with smugglers in parts of North Africa controlled by the militants. He alleged that IS was allowing the boat owners to continue their operations in exchange for half of their income.

About 60,000 people are estimated to have tried to cross the Mediterranean this year, fleeing conflict and poverty. Since the 2011 uprising, Libya has been without a stable government, and the chaos has allowed trafficking networks there to thrive.

In a TV interview, Haroun said IS used the boats “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”.

 IS Pushed Back From Palmyra

Syria’s antiquities chief voiced guarded relief on Sunday as government troops pushed IS militants back from the remains of ancient Palmyra.

The militants, who have demolished several ancient sites in neighboring Iraq, had advanced to within a kilometer of the UNESCO world heritage site, one of the jewels of classical architecture.

“We have good news today, we feel much better,” antiquities chief Mamoun Abdulkarim said. “There was no damage to the ruins, but this does not mean we should not be afraid.”

Provincial governor Talal Barazi also said the army had recaptured northern districts of the modern town of Tadmur which IS had overrun on Saturday.