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Islamic State jihadists entering EU nations using Ukrainian passport

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There is ongoing discussion about thousands of Islamic State (ISIS) fighters entering European Union (EU) nations using Ukrainian passport – sometime even using non-Muslim names. According to counterterrorism researchers – during the Syrian conflict, Ukraine has been used as a transit point for ISIS fighters who sought to move further into the European nations. In Ukraine, these individuals receive treatment to improve their health and met with representatives of local terror cells. Additionally, they managed paper marriage with Ukrainian females which enabled them in ultimately getting citizenship of the country. Once they received Ukrainian passport, they almost immediately left Ukraine for any of the European countries – melted into the society and silently continued jihadist activities by maintaining regular communication with Islamic State (ISIS) network.

On July 27, 2015, European Parliament in response to a question about presence of ISIS combatants in areas disputed by Ukraine and Russia was told:

On July 7, 2015 the New York Times reported the presence of a Chechen volunteer force made up of Islamic State (ISIS) sympathizers in territories disputed by Russia and Ukraine.

It appears that they have openly sided with Ukraine in a bid to weaken Russia and compel it to concentrate its forces on that country, drawing resources away from other fronts on which it is pitted against various Islamic terrorist groups.

To date, the Ukrainian authorities have made no attempt to deny the reports and have neither disowned these fundamentalist ISIS combatants nor sought to remove them from territory Ukraine has been claiming is its own.

Given the serious danger posed by ISIS and Islamic terrorism in general, as confirmed recently by the tragic attacks in France and Tunisia, does the Vice-President/High Representative not consider it appropriate to rethink her stance regarding the conflict between Ukraine and Russia and engage in closer dialogue with Russia with a view to containing this fundamentalist threat?

In 2022, Russian news outlet Sputnik Arabic in a report claimed, dozens of extremist fighters have made their way from Syria’s northern Idlib governorate to Ukraine to fight against Russian troops.

According to the report, at least 87 former members of ISIS were allegedly transferred to the Syrian-Turkish border on March 26, 2022 under the direct supervision of the leader of the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) armed group, Abu Mohammad al-Julani. The report indicated that most of the fighters are Iraqi, Chechen, Tunisian, and French nationalities.

On March 8, 2022, 450 HTS militants arrived in Ukraine to join the fight against the Russian army.

According to the family members of the militants, high-ranking HTS leaders have been coordinating with senior leaders of the Turkistan Islamic Party group, Ansar al-Tawhid, and Hurras al-Din groups, to facilitate the passage of the extremists from Idlib to Turkey and then on to Ukraine.

In early March 2022, the foreign intelligence service of Russia (SVR RF) issued warnings stating the US and NATO are providing ISIS fighters from Syria with special training at the US army’s Al-Tanf military base in Syria, and then sending them to Ukraine.

The SVR statement detailed the history of the secret operation they uncovered, saying: “At the end of 2021, the US released from prison – several dozen Daesh (ISIS) terrorists, including citizens of CIS countries. These individuals were sent to the US-controlled Al-Tanf base, where they underwent special training in subversive and terrorist warfare methods with a focus on the Donbass region”.

Foreign mercenaries from around the world have joined in on the side of Ukraine, as President Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded for global assistance in the wake of the Kremlin’s special military operation.

Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine on 24 February after responding to the call for assistance by the newly-recognized republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Despite recognition of their independence by Russia, Ukrainian armed forces continued to shell civilian targets and to breach the borders of the two republics, prompting the leaders of the republics to formally ask Russia for military assistance.

Bio: Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is an internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning journalist, writer, research-scholar, counterterrorism specialist and Editor, Blitz, a newspaper publishing from Bangladesh since 2003. He regularly writes for local and international newspapers. Follow him on X @Salah_Shoaib

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