According to information, these people have family or friendly relations with Muslim fanatics in European countries. It is also possible that some of them might have European passports and use them to travel in Europe and the Middle East.
Greek authorities are in constant contact with intelligence agencies in the US, France and the UK, as it is estimated that there are about 80-100 jihadists in the country, who either live or currently visiting Greece in order to go to Syria. Some are under police surveillance, while European countries inform Greece about Syrians and Iraqis living in the country who have family or friendly relations with jihadists who live mainly in Britain and France. Until today, three jihadist extremists of French nationality have been arrested.
The arrested suspects had entered Greece while returning from Syria and are members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). One of them was arrested in France and the other in Italy, following information provided by Greek authorities, while the third one was arrested in Evros region in Greece, in a truck full of weapons that was heading to the Syrian rebels.
According to The Los Angeles Times, the surveillance operation comes amidst concerns that ISIS will retaliate for increased US airstrikes in Iraq and possible strikes in Syria.
“The threat level originating from Greece is very low because there are no verified indications of either dormant or active ISIS cells or splinter groups within the country,” a senior intelligence official said. “We are, however, at a heightened state of vigilance now, exchanging intelligence from the United States, Britain, France and others,” the LA Times report said.
The official, who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the topic, did not elaborate. Nor did he say whether Greece had issued international arrest warrants for Islamist militants in a bid to block the spillover of extremist violence from the Middle East.
In recent months, Greek intelligence has detected six ISIS recruits traveling through the country, including a 23-year-old French national carrying a memory stick with instructions for making bombs.
According to Greek newspaper “Proto Thema,” the instructions carried by the Algerian-born Frenchman bore the slogan “in the name of God.” His friend, a Tunisian Frenchman who worked as a cook in Cannes before being recruited by ISIS two years ago, was spotted by Greek authorities weeks later, reportedly returning from training in Syria.
“We couldn’t arrest them because there were no legal grounds to do so,” the intelligence officer said. “We tipped off other agencies on their movements instead.”
In another case, Greek authorities arrested a 43-year-old Frenchman of Russian descent for trying to drive a truck carrying weapons bound for Syria through a Greek border crossing into Turkey.
“Since the start of the year, Greece has deported more than 300 Syrians and Iraqis suspected of terrorism-related activities. What’s more, with Greece neighboring Albania, the biggest source of Islamic State recruits in the Balkans, investigators warn that the passage of militants through this country could increase,” the LA Times report said.