A report from Hungarian intelligence agencies sent to allied agencies warned Germany of the risk that people smuggling networks along the Balkan route are controlled by the Taliban, the Islamist terrorist organization that has ruled Afghanistan since the U.S. withdrawal, according to exclusive information published by German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.
In the document, Hungarian intelligence agencies informed Germany that since the outbreak of the war between Israel and Hamas, “there is an increased risk of terrorism, which is closely linked to migratory pressure,” as illegal immigration along the Balkan migration route can be used by terrorist networks. Smuggling gangs have also been identified which, according to the Hungarian agencies, are “under the direct control of the Taliban intelligence service,” as their leaders are relatives of members of the Taliban government and of the Taliban-linked Haqqani militia network.
The report has a strong focus on two Afghan gangs, one known as “400-59” and the other “313,” which compete with each other and are known for using AK-47 rifles to herd migrants north.
The Hungarian intelligence document also warned the Germans that members of the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and the Haqqani network can now reach Europe more easily than ever before because they can obtain a Tajik passport “without any problem,” which gives them visa-free travel to Russia,
From Moscow, they can easily fly to Belgrade, Serbia, “in almost a day,” and from there, it is an extremely short route to the European Union.
Gerald Tatzgern, head of the Austrian Interior Ministry’s operational office for combating people smuggling, confirmed to Welt that the Balkans are under great migratory pressure “especially in view of the fact that Pakistan is expelling around 1.7 million Afghans, some of whom want to come to Europe,” and that extremists may be among them.
Joachim Herrmann, the Bavarian interior minister, also reacted to the Welt report, saying that “robust protection of the external borders is necessary” because “we can only do away with internal border controls if the external borders are secure.”
Herrmann warns that otherwise, “smugglers and heavyweight criminals could exploit the security gaps alongside terrorists.”
German media reported last month that 20,000 people entered Germany illegally in September, the highest monthly figure since February 2016. The issue has fueled the rise of the Alternative for Germany (AfD), which is polling at 22 percent and is challenging the left-liberal government’s lax immigration stance.