Italy Fears Terrorists Infiltrating Into Europe

Wednesday, 7 February, 2018 - 09:30
Rome- Asharq Al Awsat

Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano warned of the ‘real risk’ posed by Mediterranean migrant boats that could be carrying fugitive ISIS fighters into Europe. He's been hosting African, EU and UN officials at a Rome conference.

The recent military evictions of the militia — in the likes of Syria — presented an absolute and real threat of jihadi fighters trying to slip into Europe, Alfano told a conference on migration and security in Rome Tuesday.

"It is in our interests to defeat the business model of traffickers whose profits are used to finance organized crime and, we have the evidence for this, terrorism," Alfano said.

Thousands of migrants have died trying to reach Europe from Africa in recent years. Since 2014, more than 630,000 have reached Italian shores.

Italy heads to the polls on March 4 with immigration the dominant issue on the campaign trail.

Alfano warned against the "exploitation of the immigration issue in order to stir up fears and gain easy consensus".

Represented at Tuesday's conference were 13 European and African countries, including partly lawless Libya. The meeting came three days after a racist gun attack injured at least six migrants in the central Italian town of Macerata.

Among the 13 countries attending Tuesday's meeting was Libya, a war-torn country of transit for many migrants from Africa.

Some 119,000 people arrived in Italy by boat in 2017 after making the hazardous crossing of the Mediterranean from Libya.

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