Talking to the Associated Press, French Senator Nathalie Goulet (UDI, Orne) says intelligence officials believe ISIS has created a whole force of specially trained fighters designed to attack Europe, and that the fighters are scattered around the continent in semi-autonomous cells.
Sen. Goulet put the figure at between 400 and 600 fighters, primarily people initially from Europe who went to join ISIS and are subsequent returnees. European intelligence agencies have struggled to track returnees, and in many cases have no idea who they are.
This difficulty is seen in incidents like Tuesday’s Brussels strikes, where a pair of brothers who officials say they knew as “common criminals,” but with no radical ties, launched suicide bombings at the Brussels airport.
While security officials around the world hype the huge number of people that they have under surveillance, the intelligence on them is so spotty that it’s often unclear if the people being watched are involved in anything, while many would-be attackers continue to slide under the radar.