Europe will face an exodus of fighters from the Islamic State after being defeated in Iraq and Syria, according to Jean-Paul Laborde, head of the counterterrorism agency of the UN Security Council.
The demand for private security contractors has increased in Europe, and many UK-based contractors are getting security contracts with organisations and businesses as well as with high-net-worth individuals. This demand may surge further after the disclosure by Laborde.
Increased threat levels
Laborde said that EU countries have already noticed an increase in the number of returnees. Several countries have estimated that the number of Islamic State fighters returning from different areas of the Middle East has increased by one-third compared to 2016.
In the last couple of years, Europe has witnessed a series of deadly attacks that have killed a number of civilians. Many European countries have expressed concerns about their abilities to guard their boundaries and prevent an influx of these fighters.
Laborde pointed out that the fighters returning to Europe are more dangerous than the previous ones and are filled with resentment and the hard experiences that they had to endure on the battlefield.
While there are travel restrictions in place, several foreign fighters have managed to enter Europe using smuggling networks, and this is posing a major problem for these countries. The UK has already shifted its security checkpoint at the Channel Tunnel, and it is controlled and managed by private security contractors.
The travel restrictions have been successful to a large extent in preventing sympathisers and fighters from leaving European countries and joining the Islamic State.
The UN has estimated that nearly 40 to 50 per cent of the foreign fighters have already left regions controlled by the Islamic State, but not all of them have landed in Europe.