A Delicate Issue Concerning Migratory Flow that Should Not Be Taboo

Illustration (Photo: Max Fleischmann / UnSplash)

Migration into the European Union can be many things, with many different kinds of motivation: it is instrumental for those who actually are escaping war and prosecution (and are thus legitimate asylum seekers), it can be economically motivated, or a way for people to seek out and reunite with their families. These are all legitimate reasons to embark on journeys, however dangerous they are. But there is another facet to it. Those who are actively trying to do harm to societies which are basically, even overly, welcoming towards new arrivals. What is between these two phenomena and what could be the reason?

A Dangerous Symbiosis

In October 2023, before a football match between Belgium and Sweden, two Swedish nationals were shot dead and a third person injured in Brussels, in an attack which later proved to be a terrorist attack. Since then and also before that, authorities have been on high alert but for some reason, sometimes they could not detect preparations made for such outrageous deeds. While it is not universally true that all migrants are potential terrorists but it is a fact that in some instances, illegal migration and acts of terrorism walked hand in hand, like they did in 2015 when multiple terrorists killed dozens of people in Paris. One of the main men behind the operation, Salah Abdeslam travelled from Belgium to Hungary and Germany no less than five times to collect people willing to participate. These individuals were returning from Syria with false passports on the migrant route, all of whom would be involved with the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels.

Are the Two Really Linked?

Europol’s latest European Union Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2021 (TESAT) documents that perpetrators of five completed terrorist mainland attacks (out of 10) during 2020 had “entered the EU as asylum seekers or irregular migrants”. Other immigrant terrorist infiltrators struck the United Kingdom after smuggling in through the Channel Tunnel or across the North Atlantic last year.

What is even gloomier, is that not all jihadists who attacked and plotted last year in Europe first crossed the border; quite a few were EU citizens, the sons and daughters of legal immigrants, or converts to Islam who fell under the sway of online terrorism propaganda.

Most migrant terrorists involved in thwarted or completed attacks were purposefully organized to coincide with the migration flows by an organized terrorist group to conduct or support attacks in destination countries.

Out of the 65 migrant-terrorists who carried out or had their attacks prevented, at least 40 seemed to have been deliberately inserted into the migration flows towards Europe under the guise of war refugees in order to carry out or facilitate attacks in the continent.

The Reason Behind Radicalization: Disappointment

Radicalization appears to grow out of feelings of fear and isolation that ostracism from a society or a group causes. Ostracism might take a physical mode, in the form of “voluntary” segregation and enclavization, which leads people on both sides to lead parallel lives and realities: one in light and according to the rules of the majority society and an other one inside the “enclave”. It may also take more intangible forms through social and professional interactions.

And if all this is paired up with disappointment in Western society, its traits (which is often the case because of the false promises made by human smugglers who vanish by this time), in the new life, alongside an understanding community which can manipulate the individual towards the acceptance of radical actions, the slippery slope is all there towards radicalization.


This article is an edited and abridged version of a writing to be published in the next issue of Dutch magazine Epoque.



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