Jihadists who return to Europe having fought abroad pose a danger to all of Europe, according to Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga at an informal meeting of EU justice and interior ministers in Riga.
Sommaruga called for the authorities to monitor not only so-called foreign fighters but also people who are radicalised without travelling into conflict zones.
The meeting in Latvia, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, aimed to identify jihadists at an earlier stage.
Moreover, radicalisation online should be fought by making network providers responsible for removing extremist and terrorist content from their platforms with the help of Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency.
Sommaruga said around 80% of European jihadists were radicalised over the internet, “and relatively quickly, within a few months”.
She also supported Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs, who underlined the importance of strengthening “existing instruments”, specifically in four areas: prevention of radicalisation, information sharing, identification of travel routes of terrorists and firearms.
Concerning travel routes, Simonetta Sommaruga suggested the systematic synchronisation of travel documents with the Interpol database to enable an overview of travel within the EU. This would not infringe the guidelines of the Schengen Treaty, she said.
In October, the Swiss Federal Intelligence Service said between 2001 and September 2014, 55 people had left Switzerland to fight in jihadist conflicts, 35 of whom had left since May 2013.
swissinfo.ch and agencies