There are still major gaps in intelligence sharing regarding DAESH fighters that have returned to Europe in the wake of the Brussels and Paris attacks, the EU's anti-terrorism coordinator warned Thursday.
The report, presented by Gilles de Kerchove at an interior ministers' meeting in Luxembourg, comes after repeated calls by European Union leaders for greater cooperation in dealing with extremists that attempt to return from Syria and Iraq.
"There are still significant gaps in the information being fed to Europol," the report indicated, referring to data on so-called foreign terrorist fighters who travel abroad and are then at risk of returning to their countries of origin to carry out more attacks.
The European police organization's database included the names of only 2,956 foreign fighters even though official estimates indicate that roughly 5,000 EU citizens have traveled to foreign countries to fight with the DAESH group. More than 90 percent of the names found in the database were submitted in 2015 by just five of the 28 EU member states, he added.
"Another database – the European Information System – contained just 1,615 names, he said. "The Paris and Brussels attacks seem to indicate that some, if not most, of the attackers were known to police [and] there also seem to be links to several other member states," de Kerchove's report added. This shows the "importance ... of feeding the data" it said.
A European source told the Agence France-Presse (AFP) that "certain countries were not entering information to the databases," adding that "dangerous individuals can therefore return and not be detected." The EU ministers meeting in Luxembourg called for a "change in mentality" to improve counter-terrorism in the wake of the November Paris attacks which left 130 people dead and the March 22 Brussels airport and Brussels metro suicide bombings which killed 32 people.
Both attacks appear to be the work of a single DAESH cell that straddles the border between France and Belgium. EU Migration Home Affairs and Citizenship Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said that the databases of member states should be "interconnected with a single click."