‘More jihadists heading to Europe posing as migrants,’ Libya’s PM warns
Europe will be at the mercy of terrorists posing as migrants until the refugee tide crossing the Mediterranean is stopped, Britain was warned last night.
Libya’s prime minister Fayez alSerraj predicted would-be jihadists were among tens of thousands who had been able to pass unchecked into his country.
In a chilling prophecy, he said: “When migrants reach Europe they will move freely. If, God forbid, there are terrorist elements among the migrants, a result of any incident will affect all of the EU.”
The comments by Mr Serraj, who heads Libya’s UN-backed unity government, lay bare how easy it is for terrorists to slip into Europe unvetted and travel freely due to the bloc’s border-free Schengen zone.
And they come just a week after the attacks in Spain which police have linked to radical groups based in north Africa.
Independent MEP Steven Woolfe said: “These comments show the problem to be two-fold. Firstly, potential terrorists are using the Mediterranean migrant trail as a way of entering Europe unchecked.
“Secondly, with Europe’s lack of borders due to Schengen rules, once in Europe, they are able to move from one country to another freely. Strong borders are a necessity.”
Earlier this month the Daily Express warned more than 115,000 migrants have already reached mainland Europe by sea this year.
Some 98,000 have made it to Italy after crossing the Mediterranean from north Africa, with the rest arriving in Greece, Cyprus and Spain.
Besieged Italian authorities said most arriving by sea were aged between 20 and 30 and had travelled from Nigeria, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali, Eritrea, Senegal, Sudan, Morocco and Gambia.
Thousands more have made their way to the north coast of France searching for a route to the UK.
A French regional government source said almost all of the migrants in Calais are Africans who have come up from Italy.
Jean-Paul Mulot, the Hauts-de-France region’s permanent representative to the UK, said: “The problem needs to be addressed locally but also at source, notably in Libya, where most migrants cross the Mediterranean to go to Italy and then Calais. We need an international coalition to tackle the issue.”
Frontex, the European border and coastguard agency, continues to carry out rescue missions, while Libya threatens to shut its ports to boatloads of desperate migrants.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson revealed Britain was providing more than £9million to help stabilise Libya and tackle the threat of terrorism and people-trafficking.
On his second visit to the war-ravaged north African country in less than six months, Mr Johnson said: “Libya is the front line for many challenges which left unchecked can pose problems for us in the UK, particularly illegal migration and the threat from terrorism.”
Ukip home affairs spokeswoman Jane Collins said: “The focus of the EU’s migration policy should be on working with countries like Libya to stop terrorists coming into the EU and exploiting the Schengen area.
“We need to be turning boats back in the Mediterranean instead of resources being used as some kind of EU-wide social services.”