|ISIL has started training militia for attacks in Europe: EU official||
A high-ranking official in the European Union warns over a growing threat posed by the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the European countries.
There are indications that ISIL has started training militia for attacks in Europe, EU’s counter-terrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove said in an interview with German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Monday.
"Probably they are trained on how to behave without drawing suspicion, how to select their targets, choose the right time and build a cell."
Security officials estimate that more than 2,000 Europeans have gone to Syria and joined groups fighting there, including ISIL. Dozens of them have returned back and many of them are currently under surveillance of the security services.
De Kerchove said that some of those who returned back continued a normal life, while some others were still under suspicion.
He said British officials had recently prevented a major planned attack by a returned European fighter and French officials had arrested a suspect with large amount of explosives. The suspect in last month's Brussels Jewish museum attack was also a fighter returned from Syria, he noted.
"Germany, Denmark, Sweden, the U.K., Spain, Ireland, Belgium, France and the Netherlands are the countries where the majority of the fighters are from," the EU official said, adding that most of them are 20-25 years old, and from third or fourth generation of Muslim immigrants who face identity problems in their country.
"They feel isolated, marginalized and they are seeking to be part of a group, seeking a meaning to their life," De Kerchove said.
He called for new legal measures and stronger cooperation among EU partners and countries in the region to address the growing threat posed by ISIL.
De Kerchove stressed the need for a common definition of terrorism within the EU and new legal measures that would enable criminal proceedings against Europeans who went to Syria to fight.
"Participating jihad abroad should be a criminal offense and should be defined in the same way in all 28 EU member states," De Kerchove stressed.
Kurds warn Kerry of 'new Iraq'
Meanwhile, the president of Iraq's ethnic Kurdish region declared Tuesday that "we are facing a new reality and a new Iraq" as the country considers new leadership for its government as an immediate step to curb the ISIL-led insurgency.
The comments by Kurdish President Massoud Barzani came as he met with visiting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is pushing the central government in Baghdad to at least adopt new policies that would give more authority to Iraq's minorities, AP reported.
Barzani told Kerry that Kurds are seeking "a solution for the crisis that we have witnessed."
Kerry said at the start of an hour-long private meeting that the Kurdish security forces known as peshmerga have been "really critical" in helping restrain the advance of the ISIL, a terrorist group that has overtaken several key areas in Iraq's west and north, and is pushing the country toward civil war.
"This is a very critical time for Iraq, and the government formation challenge is the central challenge that we face," Kerry said. He said that Iraqi leaders must "produce the broad-based, inclusive government that all the Iraqis I have talked to are demanding."
Barzani's support is key to solving the current political crisis, because Kurds represent about 20 percent of Iraq's population and usually vote as a unified bloc. That has made Kurds kingmakers in Iraq's national political process.
Tuesday's meeting in Irbil, the Kurdish capital, came a day after Kerry traveled to Baghdad to discuss potential options with Maliki. Kerry said after the Baghdad meetings that political leaders agreed to start the process of seating a new government by July 1, which will advance a constitutionally-required timetable for distributing power among Iraq's political blocs, which are divided by sect and ethnicity.
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