Jihadists who targeted Syrian Christians posing as European migrants

Syria

German police and security agencies are hunting for dozens of members of a Syrian jihadi group who have entered the country disguised as migrants. Der Spiegel reported that German police have identified 25 members of Al Nusra Front and arrested a small number of them. However, dozens of others are believed to be in hiding in German cities.

A line of Syrian refugees crossing the border of Hungary and Austria on their way to Germany.
Syrian refugees queue to cross the border between Hungary and Austria.
CC BY-SA 4.0 by Mstyslav Chernov

According to the Federal Criminal Police, 410 migrants who entered Germany as asylum-seekers between 2015 and 2016 are currently being investigated for the links to Middle Eastern jihadist groups.

Al Nusra front (now known as Hay’at Tahrir al Sham) was until recently Al Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria. It is believed to have been behind the abduction of a number of senior Christian leaders and has also been involved in a number attacks on Christians. In September 2013 Al Nusra, along with Ahrar Al Sham, attacked the predominantly Christian town of Maaloula. When they captured it, Christians who had been unable to flee were given the choice of conversion to Islam or being beheaded.

Al Nusra front is on the EU’s list of banned terrorist organisations, allowing those who have fought with it to be prosecuted. However, other jihadi groups such as Ahrar Al Sham, despite their specific targeting of Christians, are still not banned terrorist organisations, making it likely that any jihadist identified in Europe will escape prosecution. In the last twelve months Barnabas Fund has met with both the EU High Representative in London and the British Foreign Office minister, presenting them with a dossier of information as to why groups such as Ahrar Al Sham should be added to the list of banned terrorist organisations.