“Islamic State [IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL] is under pressure in Mosul and Raqqa. Belgian fighters are helping defend the strongholds, but we must be aware that there are not only 200 of our countrymen there, but between 3,000 and 5,000 Europeans,” Jambon told state broadcaster RTBF on Sunday.
“All the intelligence agencies are trying to monitor the situation and exchange information. If the wave comes, we must be ready.”
With its previously under-powered security services, location in the heart of the EU, and a large contingent of Muslim immigrants concentrated in neighborhoods like Molenbeek in Brussels, Belgium is considered a hotbed of European Islamism.
Last year’s Paris attacks, and the bombing of a train station and an airport in Brussels in March, were both plotted in Belgium, which the UN says has a higher number of Islamist militant recruits per capita than any other European country.
The number of foreign fighters who have joined ISIS and other extremist groups on the battlefield has doubled to more than 30,000 in the last 18 months, a new report has revealed.
It found fanatics from all corners of the globe including western Europe, Asia and Russia and parts of north Africa are heading to Iraq and Syria in greater numbers than ever before.
The well trained, battle hardened returnees are capable of orchestrating deadly lone wolf attacks such as the one that devastated Paris attacks, respected terror analysts told MailOnline.
Convergence: More than 31,000 foreign fighters have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight with ISIS, a disturbing new report has revealed
Concentrated: The report also identified hotbeds of extremism, including Bizerte and Ben Gardane in Tunisia, which has contributed more foreign fighters to ISIS than any other country
With its dream of building a supranational Islamic Caliphate, IS purposefully cultivated an international appeal, attracting thousands of fighters from Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Russia’s Islamic regions, and the immigrant communities of Europe.
How many remain under ISIS’ command is unclear, with the US estimating that the group had fewer than 5,000 fighters left to defend Mosul when the assault on the city began last month, and perhaps as many in its unofficial capital of Raqqa in Syria.