London: The dreaded Islamic State terror group is exploiting the refugee crisis to smuggle its members into Europe to create sleeper cells, British intelligence agencies have warned.
The suspected terrorists are mainly travelling on fake Syrian or Iraqi passports which are now so sophisticated that it is almost impossible to distinguish between genuine refugees and terror suspects, the Telegraph reported.
Citing security officials, the paper said it also means suspects who were under watch by the intelligence agencies suddenly vanish.
"Islamic State is skilfully exploiting the migrant crisis to smuggle terror cells from Syria into major European countries such as the UK," a top intelligence official said.
"Jihadists travel to Raqqa (Syria) to meet up with ISIL commanders, where they receive training and new passports. They then make their way back to Europe posing as migrants with new identities, making it virtually impossible for security officials to detect potential terrorists among those fleeing persecution," the British official said.
The House of Commons home affairs select committee (HASC) is examining the issue of fake passports being used by suspected terrorists to gain entry into the UK.
"It is deeply concerning that the migration crisis may be being used as cover for terrorists seeking to commit violent acts in Europe," Indian-origin MP and chair of the committee Keith Vaz said.
"The HASC has heard evidence from the Greek ambassador, who made it clear that Greece does not have the required technology to identify fake Syrian passports.
"It is vital for our national security that the UK, and EU as a whole, provides resources to secure the external border to prevent future atrocities like the attacks in Paris last year, and ensure international databases are up to date.
"The external border of the UK is now the front line in the fight against terrorism," Vaz added.
The European Union police agency Europol had earlier warned that ISIS is plotting "Mumbai-style" terrorist attacks directed at soft targets such as public places in Europe.
The Europol warning came as the ISIS released a strongly defiant new beheading video, showing the nine 'Paris attackers' and threatening an attack on the UK.
The latest disclosures will intensify pressure on the UK government ahead of the EU referendum, expected later this year to decide whether Britain should withdraw from the EU.
Eurosceptics are of the view that the only way of ensuring that terrorists are not able to travel to the UK would be by withdrawing from the EU and imposing much stricter border regulations.
At least two of the terrorists who killed 130 people in Paris last November had entered Europe on fake Syrian passports. It was also feared their ringleader, Belgian national Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was able to return from Syria hiding among the thousands of refugees....