2019-04-18 13:21:00

Bortnikov warns about 1,500 trained Islamist terrorists returning to Europe

St. Petersburg, April 18, Interfax - More than 1,500 fighters trained in terrorist camps in the Middle East have returned to Europe and are prepared for continuing their activity, Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Alexander Bortnikov said at the Conference on Countering International Terrorism in St. Petersburg on Thursday.

"International terrorist fighters are the main tool of expansion for international terrorist groups. Many are returning to their home countries or settling down in other states having being trained in Islamist camps and hardened in battle. Experts say that over 1,500 out of 5,000 terrorists who left for the Middle East are now back in the European Union," Bortnikov said.

Those trained in terrorist camps are deliberately coming to Europe, he said.

"Many are militants sent to Europe by their ringleaders to continue terrorist activity. They are establishing sleeper cells and reinforcing existent terrorists," Bortnikov said.

"There are over 10,000 websites representing practically every international [terrorist] group. They have created hundreds of thousands of accounts on social media and are publishing materials in some 40 languages; primarily, Arabic, English, and Russian," Bortnikov said.

The terrorists "are carrying out targeted propaganda and trying to reach out to as many target groups are possible," he said.

"The Islamists are conveying their ideology through short religious comics and cartoons," Bortnikov said.