US worried over 'acceleration' of ISIS recruits

The top U.S. Army commander in Europe said Thursday he was concerned by an “acceleration” in the recruitment of Europeans by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Maj. Gen. Walter Piatt, commanding general of U.S. Army Europe, said he’s worried the ISIS recruits could later return to Europe and launch attacks against the West. 

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“We see recruiting kind of accelerating,” Piatt said at a breakfast with defense reporters. “It's a concern. ... We've seen it all the way throughout Europe and [it's] impossible to track every single person where they are.”

Piatt said the movement of European jihadists into and out of Syria is “one of the largest threats in Europe that we see from the spillover” of the Syrian Civil War.

He added that sharing intelligence with European partners on terrorists flowing through their borders remains a challenge.

Several thousand foreign fighters from Europe have joined ISIS in Syria. Many of them traveled from Europe and across Turkey's border to reach Syria. 

Piatt said that so far, Turkey has not asked the U.S. for help in securing its border with Syria. 

“Their assessment is that they have their border secure,” Piatt said. “They have not asked for us to actively support that ... other than our normal support.”

Piatt said the Army has increased its normal security measures in some places because of potential terrorist threats in Europe. 

He said the Army is required to do one annual exercise per military installation in Europe, but that officials can do these more frequently if needed. 

“We allow the garrison commanders at these installations to be able to do these no-notice exercises to test readiness, to test our force protection measures, to test our ability to inform U.S. service members across ... that we have increased threats,” he said. “They are a target, we know they are a target.

“We understand there is a possibility of lone wolf attacks — as you know somebody could just take advantage of an opportunity — it's not going to destabilize Europe but it's a real threat to protection of our citizens in these nations, and also forces deployed to these countries,” he said.