07 October 2015
Western media reports have played up the threat of Islamic State “sleeper cells” infiltrating Europe with the recent refugee exodus. Do these reports reflect genuine concerns or over wrought fear-mongering? What are the deeper ramifications of this crisis and what should be the longer term reactions from governments?
Fears of Islamic State (IS) “sleeper cells” infiltrating Europe with the recent refugee influx incubating, and later creating anything from lone-wolf to 9/11 style attacks, have been highlighted in recent weeks by the western media, rightist politicians and extremist groups. Although there have indeed been calls by IS in 2015 for sleeper cell attacks following US-led coalition airstrikes on IS-held territory, hard evidence of an organised attempt to plant cells within the refugee tidal wave is hard to come by; unpacking the actual facts behind the melange of rumour and scaremongering even more challenging.
Media reports have suggested a few arrests (none in fact confirmed) or else manhunts of false “asylum seekers” at borders or refugee centres, while other news outlets have surfaced “interviews” quoting a range of individuals (these include Middle East officials, activists and even IS operatives themselves) that IS “covert jihadists” have entered Europe, perhaps in cooperation with criminal gangs operating either in Libya or Turkey. Far more worrying, few appear focused on what this all means for Europe over the longer-term.
… Shashi Jayakumar is Head, Centre of Excellence for National Security, a component of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
CENS / Online
Last updated on 08/04/2016