The influx of Syrian refugees into Europe is under renewed scrutiny with reports indicating that at least one of the terrorists responsible for killing more than 120 people in Paris on Friday potentially entered the country as a refugee.
With an estimated four million Syrians having sought refuge in Europe, officials and experts expressed fear that an inability to track these individuals may have played a role in Friday’s massive terror attack.
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"This is what we had feared," a senior French official told the Wall Street Journal on Saturday, referring to the country’s inability to adequately monitor Syrian due to the ongoing war there.
One of the alleged attackers reportedly used a Syrian passport to enter Europe and travel across the country under the shelter of asylum, according to multiple reports. The individual reportedly entered Europe among a wave of refugees in Greece before traveling to France.
"The bomber falsely declared himself to be a Syrian named Ahmad al Muhammad, born on September 10, 1990, and was allowed to enter Greece on October 3," according to a French lawmaker who spoke to CNN.
"From there he moved to Macedonia, then Serbia and Croatia, where he registered in the Opatovac refugee camp," CNN reported. "Eventually, he made his way to Paris, where he was one of three men who blew themselves up at the Stade de France."
Fingerprints allegedly obtained from the passport matched those of one of the accused bombers, the source told CNN.
Intelligence services have been on high alert as refugees from the Middle East flood into Europe.
Ibrahim al-Jaafari, Iraq’s foreign minister, told reporters over the weekend that his country had shared information indicating that France, the United States, and Iran had been selected as targets for a terrorist attack by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
"Information has been obtained from Iraqi intelligence sources that the countries to be targeted soon, before it occurred, are Europe in general, specifically France, as well as America and Iran," Reuters quoted Jaafari as saying on the sidelines of a major conference in Vienna meant to address the issue of Syria.
Two other attackers who carried out a suicide attack were found to be holding Turkish passports.
European security officials now fear that terrorists affiliated with IS are embedding themselves into the masses of refugees migrating to Europe, according to CNN.
Overwhelmed security services are failing to adequately screen individuals and track them once they enter Europe, according to these officials.
President Francois Hollande vowed to destroy Islamic State terrorists abroad before they can again reach France.
"France, because it was freely, cowardly attacked, will be merciless against the terrorists," the French leader said over the weekend.
European officials are now locked in a "furious" fight over how to deal with the refugee issue going forward.
"Top Polish and Slovak officials poured cold water on an EU plan to relocate asylum seekers across the bloc, saying the violence underlined their concerns about taking in Muslim refugees," Reuters reported.
Chancellor Angela Merkel also has come under fire for what some described as Germany’s "open-door" refugee policy, according to the report.
"The days of uncontrolled immigration and illegal entry can't continue just like that. Paris changes everything," Markus Soeder, a Bavarian finance minister, was quoted as telling news outlets.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama came under fire for claiming that the Islamic State has been "contained."
His comments sparked confusion and outrage among journalists and experts, including CNN’s Jake Tapper, who said on Sunday, "If this is what ISIS looks like contained, I shudder to think what ISIS looks like uncontained."
Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon analyst and expert on rogue regimes, told the Washington Free Beacon on Sunday that the United States is not immune from the dangers of Europe’s refugee crisis.
"The Paris attack was the French security service's second major intelligence failure in a year," Rubin said. "While immigration hawks focus on our border with Mexico, our real Achilles heel may be Europe. So many European passports entitle their holders to free travel visa waivers. It's all very well to get air manifests in advance but who's doing the vetting and how well?"
The United States should consider reimposing travel restrictions on Europe in an effort to prevent terrorist elements from entering the country, Rubin said.
"These attacks may not only mean the end of Schengen [passport free zones in Europe] but also the reimposition of travel restrictions that haven't been in play for generations," he said. "Obama may talk about openness, but his naïveté and incompetence in the face of terrorism may ultimately force us down a path that not even the most ardent isolationist would have thought possible just a couple years ago."