Indeed, it seems unlikely that all of the terrorist would go down in some glorious last stand, especially considering recent revelations that the US and Saud Arabian intelligence agencies plan to allow over 9,000 Daesh militants to flee Mosul and move into eastern Syria – an elaborate scheme apparently meant hinder the efforts by President Bashar Assad to liberate his war-torn country.
However, it appears that the fall of Mosul may prompt a considerable number of militants who originally came there from Europe to return home, eager to make use of all the deadly experience they’ve gained while fighting in the Middle East, according to the Swedish newspaper Exressen.
"I think we’re going to have to deal with a problem of an entire generation. We’ll have to capture thousands of returning foreign Daesh fighters, especially the natives of Western Europe," Europol Director Rob Wainwright warned.
According to Europol, over 5,000 Europeans travelled to the Middle East to join the ranks of Daesh, and about 1,700 of them have already returned home. Now, as the terrorist group’s fortunes have apparently been reversed, the European authorities fear that many of those foreign fighters might decide to jump ship or, even worse, to bring the battle home.
And while Europol struggles to keep Europe’s borders secure by deploying additional units to Greece and Italy, tasked with identifying the returning terrorists, it remains to be seen how effective these measures are.
"Since 2015 Daesh has been sending groups of militants to Europe; some of them were part of terror cells that perpetrated the attacks in Paris and Brussels. We believe that they may try to repeat it. It doesn’t mean that they’ll succeed, but the threat is still quite real," Wainwright added.
At the same time, EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove said that the terrorists flocking back to Europe may bring with them expertise needed to create and deploy car-bombs and chemical weapons.
And while FBI Director James Comey claimed that Daesh fighters returning to Europe may pose a threat to the region no sooner than in two to five years, Wainwright begged to differ.
"It may happen very soon. It’s happening now. They’re coming back," he said.