Greek intelligence has increased surveillance of refugee camps in the country amid radical Islamist calls for jihad in response to the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Cheers of celebration minutes after Hamas’ deadly attack on Israel. … Chants of praise not from pockets of the Middle East … but Greece.
Like many other countries, Greece has boosted security since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, elevating its level of national alert to Code 4, just shy of the highest level possible.
With tens of thousands of mainly Arab migrants residing in camps here, intelligence officials are keeping close watch fearing what they tell VOA is “a radicalization of Islamist elements” that could trigger terror attacks like the shooting deaths of two Swedish nationals in Brussels Monday and the stabbing death of a teacher Friday in the French town of Arras.
In both instances, the alleged killers said they were acting for the Islamic State militant group.
Politicians in Greece such as Migration and Asylum Minister Dimitris Keridis say the situation here is under control.
He says the celebration videos posted by migrants at a camp on the island of Samos were one-off, and not worrying.
But, intelligence officials say they are not taking any chances.
The say they have increased surveillance of camps here, hoping to pick up chatter on any nefarious plans.
Social media platforms that attempt to incite violence are being monitored and suspects are being watched, out of concern that dormant cells of radical Islamists could be mobilized.
The biggest concern though, according to Keridis, is that a wave of migrants caused by the Gaza crisis that could destabilize the region.
It’s not just Palestinians from Gaza who could come in, he says, but also potential migrants from Egypt and Lebanon. He says both countries are already hubs for millions of people fleeing persecution in the Middle East and sub-Saharan African states such as Sudan who are seeking passage to the West.
Greece has sided with Israel in its bid to uproot Hamas, but it has also cautioned Israel to prevent a humanitarian crisis from spilling over into neighboring states and Europe – a conduit previously exploited by Islamist extremists.
Soon after a massive refugee crisis hit Greece and Europe in 2015, radical Islamists entered Europe posing as migrants.
Two were implicated in deadly attacks in France that same year. Both used forged Syrian passports to enter the country illegally and seek temporary shelter in a refugee camp.
Intelligence experts tell VOA large-scale coordinated terrorist attacks in Europe are not likely — but instances of individuals responding to the call of violence are entirely possible.