ISIS has trained more than 400 fighters to unleash more deadly terror attacks across Europe with extremists ordered to wait for the ‘right time and place’ to cause maximum carnage, it has emerged.
Officials believe hundreds of extremists have been trained specifically for external attacks on European cities, like the ones which have brought death and devastation to Brussels and Paris.
Depraved Islamic State chiefs are said to have encouraged fighters to choose the time, place and method of a terror attack wisely in a bid to cause maximum casualties and destruction.
Security officials, including European and Iraqi intelligence officials and a French lawmaker who follows the jihadi networks, say there are camps in Syria and Iraq designed specifically to train for attacks against the West.
The network of interlocking, agile and semiautonomous cells shows the reach of the extremist group in Europe even as it loses ground in Syria.
Before being killed in a police raid, the ringleader of the November Paris massacres claimed he had entered Europe in a multinational group of 90 fighters, who scattered ‘more or less everywhere.’
But the biggest break yet in the Paris attacks investigation – the arrest on Friday of fugitive Salah Abdeslam- did not thwart the multipronged attack just four days later on the Belgian capital’s airport and metro that left 31 people dead and around 270 wounded. Three suicide bombers also died.
Just as in Paris, Belgian authorities are now searching for at least one fugitive in Tuesday’s attacks – this time for the ‘Man in White’ who was seen on airport security footage with the two suicide attackers.
The fear is that the man, whose identity Belgian officials say is not known, will find Abdeslam’s path instructive.
After fleeing Paris immediately after the November attacks, Abdeslam forged a new network back in his childhood neighborhood of Molenbeek in Brussels – long known as a haven for jihadis and renewed plotting, according to Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders.
‘Not only did he drop out of sight, but he did so to organise another attack, with accomplices everywhere. With suicide belts. Two attacks organized just like in Paris. And his arrest, since they knew he was going to talk, it was a response: `So what if he was arrested? We’ll show you that it doesn’t change a thing,” said French Senator Nathalie Goulet, co-head of a commission tracking jihadi networks.