ISIS fears: Hungary TV report suggests ‘militants’ posing as refugees cross into Europe
Hungary’s most watched national TV channel, M1, reported Tuesday that at least two “terrorists” were uncovered via photographs on social media after entering Europe as refugees.
“Islamist terrorists, disguised as refugees, have showed up in Europe. [The] pictures were uploaded on various social networks to show that terrorists are now present in most European cities. Many, who are now illegal immigrants, fought alongside Islamic State before,” the report said.
The Hungarian channel broadcasted collections of photographs of the two men from social media. The first set depicted two individuals with weapons and the second set showed them smiling as they arrived in Europe.
However, the man it was claimed had been an Islamic State militant had previously given an interview to AP, saying that he was a former Syrian rebel commander. The AP reported that his name was Laith Al Saleh, 30, and he “led a 700-strong rebel unit in Syria’s civil war.” The news agency’s photos taken on August 15 showed Al Saleh among other refugees waiting to board an Athens-bound ferry on the Greek island of Kos.
AP reported that he was a member of the Free Syrian Army, which is fighting against the Syrian government forces of President Bashar Assad, as well as against terrorist groups in the region.
The man who uploaded the photo of Al Saleh on Facebook claiming the man was an Islamic State militant has apologized in an interview to the BBC on Monday.
The identity of the second man, who the Hungarian media claimed to have been an Al Nusra fighter, has not yet been clarified.
Other media reports have speculated that IS militants are using the refugee crisis to infiltrate the EU. A recent article in the UK Express daily claimed that IS “smuggled thousands of covert jihadists into Europe.” It cited a January BuzzFeed interview with an IS operative who said the militants have already sent some 4,000 fighters into Europe under guise of refugees. However, these speculations have not been confirmed by Western security officials.
Some politicians have said that Islamic State might be winning if people are abandoning their homes in Iraq or Syria. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said: “It’s very difficult, but if all these refugees come to Europe or elsewhere, then Islamic State has won.”
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