Free movement around the European Union (EU) allows terrorists to easily cross international borders and commit mass murder, former UKIP leader Nigel Farage has said.
Security forces across the bloc are currently hunting for a terrorist linked to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) after he rammed a van into tourists on Barcelona’s Las Ramblas, killing 13.
More than 130 people were injured in the attack in the Catalonian capital. However, as armed officers moved in, 22-year-old Moroccan national Younes Abouyaaquoub allegedly hijacked a car and escaped.
As a transnational manhunt gets underway, Farage said EU policies are allowing terrorists to go undetected.
The former UKIP leader and MEP took to Twitter to claim terrorists can roam freely across EU borders.
“The free movement of people also means the free movement of terrorists,” he said.
Despite the work of agencies such as Interpol, which links police forces in 190 countries, and Europol, which combines EU police, Farage suggested terrorists are moving freely across the bloc.
Free movement of people was introduced by the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, and allows citizens of all EU member states to move around and live in other member states without difficulty.
From this, the Schengen zone was born, which allows residents to cross borders without going through stringent passport control.
Farage, who fought for Brexit for almost two decades, blamed immigration and free movement in the European Union for terrorist attacks in the immediate aftermath of the Spain assault.
He told Fox News immigration and terrorism are “linked.”
“There is a direct link and relationship between the number of people you let in from different religions and different cultures and the number of terror attacks,” he said.
However, a special report delivered to the UN General Assembly in 2016 found evidence to suggest otherwise.
Ben Emmerson, the special rapporteur, said: “Overly-restrictive migration policies introduced because of terrorism concerns are not justified and may in fact be damaging to state security.”
Farage’s latest outburst, however, has proved divisive. The post was liked 250 times in less than half an hour, but was also met with a backlash from angry commenters.
John O’Hagan tweeted: “Yes, we must stop people moving freely. Let’s start by putting you in a straitjacket.”