FRENCH PRIME MINISTER Manuel Valls.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The number of Europeans swelling the Islamic State group's ranks could reach 10,000 by the end of 2015, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls suggested on Sunday in an interview with French television, AFP reported Sunday.
"There are 3,000 Europeans in Iraq and Syria today. When you do a projection for the months to come, there could be 5,000 before summer and 10,000 before the end of the year," Valls warned, addressing the near three-fold increase of foreign born Islamic State militants.
"Do you realize the threat this represents?" he asked. "There have already been nearly 90 French people who have died out there with a weapon in their hand, fighting against our own values."
Different organizations have provided various estimates of how many fighters have joined the Islamic State and other groups like it.
According to the Tel-Aviv-based Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, approximately between 6,000 and 7,000 fighters have traveled to Syria alone in order to fight the Assad regime. Meanwhile, the US State Department has suggested that as many as 20,000 fighters from one hundred different countries have passed through both Syria and Iraq.
Valls also spoke on the threat of those yet to join the jihad abroad, claiming that there are some 1,400 French citizens and residents, some of whom have fought and returned to France, who are willing to return to the battlefield or even carry out terror attacks at home.
In February, France put into practice counter-terrorism legislation that it had passed in November, seizing passports from six French citizens and issuing bans on an additional 40 people suspected of planning to travel abroad and join jihadist groups.
"We have to face a particularly high threat level in France, in Europe and in other countries," Valls said.