Syria is serving as a petri dish for European jihad, prompting solemn concern from EU interior ministers in a meeting yesterday. The Washington Post reports that between 1,500 and 2,000 Europeans citizens—more than twice the number US intelligence officials had estimated—have gone to fight in Syria. EU officials say that some are converts to Islam, many have made their contacts on the ground online, and most have indicated a willingness to fight alongside al-Qaeda affiliates. There are now entire training camps in Syria composed of European fighters, sending EU officials into a panic over the prospect of their eventual return:
E.U. interior ministers gathered Thursday in Brussels to discuss the flow to Syria, which has soared to the top of the counterterrorism agenda as the civil war has entered its third year. Syria has become a gathering point for extremist Islamist fighters from around the world, officials said Thursday. Many fear that combatants could return home and commit acts of terror on European soil or serve as inspiration to others.European officials said they were stunned by the speed of the radicalization and flow of their citizens to Syria, and some officials urged new measures, such as collecting and sharing more airline passenger information, in an effort to slow the migration.“What we note is the rapidity of the phenomenon,” [French Interior Minister Manuel Valls] said.
A world of ugly is coming out of this terrible war, as the costs of our failure to act back when that would have been possible (without ground troops) continue to mount.