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European Welfare Systems’ Inadvertent Support for Terrorists


European Welfare Systems’ Inadvertent Support for Terrorists

Counter Extremism Project

by Luisa Roemer

In 2017, European security services uncovered that Islamist domestic terrorists and foreign fighters received social welfare payments totaling more than two million euros between 2012 and 2016. Among the primary reasons for the lack of governmental oversight were insufficient coordination between government authorities combined with unclear division of responsibilities, legislative loopholes, and missing control mechanisms.

ISIS generates most of its wealth in Syria from oil sales, taxation, extortion, and confiscation of property and cash. However, a smaller portion of the terror group’s revenue originates from Europe, collected through donations from ISIS-sympathizers, charity scams, and—notably—social welfare payments.

For example, Anis Amri, the perpetrator of the December 2016 Christmas market attack in Berlin, used multiple identities to apply for asylum and to over-claim for social welfare benefits in Germany. It is likely that Amri received a monthly stipend of €135, housing allowances, vouchers, and other payments in kind.

According to Belgian authorities, Salah Abdeslam, the logistical mastermind of the 2015 Paris attacks, collected approximately $21,000 in unemployment benefits up until three weeks prior to the attacks. Khalid and Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, suicide bombers in the coordinated Brussels March 2016 attacks, together received $34,700 in unemployment benefits between February 2014 and May 2015. It appears that the Belgian social welfare system provided these terrorists with the “livelihoods and indirect support for their terrorist activities”—including deadly attacks on European soil.

Read more: https://www.counterextremism.com/blog/european-welfare-systems%E2%80%99-inadvertent-support-terrorists