EU interior ministers plan to check every passport against a counter-terror watch list for first time, as officials admit 3,000 jihadists are missing from a Europol intelligence database.
The Paris terror mastermind was able to sneak into Europe among Syrian migrants, it emerged on Thursday evening, as police on the continent admitted that they are unable to monitor thousands of suspected jihadists.
EU interior ministers will on Friday move to tighten the continent's borders to ensure that every single migrant is checked against a terrorism watchlist, after French authorities revealed that Abdelhamid Abaaoud was able to return from Syria via the migrant route of Greece.
At a summit in Brussels, they are also expected to bow to French demands to screen every single EU passport holder entering the continent for the first time to catch fighters returning from the Middle East.
Disaffected Muslim populations at home, unpoliced European borders and battle-hardened fighters now flowing in from Syria and Iraq were creating a perfect storm of terror that is now in danger of defeating the French security services.
France is estimated to have 2,000 citizens involved in Syrian and Iraq jihadi networks and a further 3,800 individuals known to domestic intelligence services as “radicalised”, all watched over by just 3,200 intelligence officers.
“The services are overwhelmed,” said Jean-Charles Brisard, head of the Paris-based Centre for the Analysis of Terrorism, “when you consider it takes 25 officers to provide round-the-clock surveillance on one individual, you can see the difficulty.”
Europe’s open border policy allowing weapons and terrorists to flow freely into France - with at least two of the Friday night attackers coming in from Belgium - means that there are now real fears that it is almost impossible for the intelligence services to keep track of the jihadi threat.
The refusal of Brussels to tighten the Schengen border rules, or begin a Passenger Name Record (PNR) system – an idea first mooted after the 2004 train bombings in Madrid - has left countries like France even more open to attack, Mr Brisard added.