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EU pre-paid debit card. Photo: UNHCR
Budapest

ISIS suspect caught in Budapest carried EU pre-paid debit card

A suspected Islamic State terrorist who entered Europe posing as a refugee, funded himself with the help of a pre-paid debit card from the European Union, according to the Hungarian government.

Published: April 2, 2019, 7:29 am

    The EU has issued 64 000 such cards to migrants. “A Syrian national by the name of F Hassan was detained in Budapest by the officers of the Counter-terrorism Centre (TEK) on suspicion of acts of terror, including involvement in explosive attacks and carrying out multiple executions in his homeland in 2016,” Zoltan Kovacs, Hungary’s Secretary of State for International Communications and Cabinet Office spokesperson, confirmed.

    “TEK collaborated with Europol and the secret services of several countries to investigate the alleged criminal activities and European network of the Syrian man, who is thought to have been a high-ranking ISIS leader,” Kovacs said. The suspect maintained that he had been working for Greek security services when he was apprehended.

    “[T]his story has a deeply disturbing side,” according to Kovacs, because such individuals are able to travel with pre-paid EU debit cards.

    After initial denials, “the [European] Commission finally admitted that the United Nations and the European Union have been distributing [pre-paid debit] cards to migrants who have reached the territory of the EU”. Some 64 000 of these pre-paid cards were distributed to migrants “in January alone”, he added.

    “And it gets worse,. Reports say that [the jihadist] received a monthly payment of 500 EUR on his debit card. That’s well over today’s gross minimum wage in Hungary.

    “The pro-immigration interests in Brussels are going too far. How many European citizens would knowingly support half-baked ideas like distributing to migrants pre-paid debit cards, charged up with EU taxpayer money? Not only will it do nothing to stop migration, but worse, this will put the safety of Europeans at risk,” he warned.

    With the support of George Soros, The EU has been distributing pre-paid debit cards to migrants. The notorious AfricaCheck, also funded by Soros’s Open Society NGO, dismissed the claims as false, but the European Commission has admitted that it uses money from EU taxpayers, to fund “a programme run by the UNHCR for pre-paid debit cards for refugees and asylum seekers in Greece”.

    The Commission claims the cards are anonymously distributed to asylum seekers, and only valid in Greece — but the Hungarian administration has disputed their claims.

    “The EC… says that ‘there are no anonymous debit cards’. However, they themselves admit that the single form of identification regarding the bank cards is a number,” Kovacs noted.

    “Did you get that? While EU nationals are required to abide by strict regulations to hold bank cards, Brussels doesn’t expect the same from migrants whose identities are often impossible to establish,” he said and highlighted that issuing such cards “blurs the lines between refugees and economic migrants”.

    “Economic migrants may also submit asylum applications, but submission of an application does not in itself mean that the applicant is a refugee,” he said. “This not only creates another pull factor, it also raises serious security concerns. The citizens of Europe have a right to know.”

    Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told public Kossuth Radio on Sunday that “patriots who dare to declare that their countries come first, for whom religious, national or cultural identities are important, who dare to protect the security of their citizens by building a wall, will face a campaign of defamation”.

    The Hungarian government is facing such a campaign, Szijjarto said, and added that “all attacks disguised by a veil of the rule of law”.

    The European Central Bank is currently monitoring the National Bank of Hungary’s ownership of the Budapest Stock Exchange. The bank slashed borrowing costs to record lows, extended affordable credit and launched other initiatives, such as a distressed loans vehicle, to bolster local financial markets.

    But Hungary’s efforts have raised concerns at the ECB that some of the measures, including an artwork acquisition programme the central bank ended last year, may not be compatible with its inflation-fighting primary mandate.

    The central bank has said its aim in acquiring the stock exchange was to boost turnover. It monitors all 28 EU central banks to ensure “compliance” and has long targetted the Hungarian bank because it funds government activity.

    But it has little power over non-euro zone central banks, however, especially if – like Hungary – they do not join the single currency soon.

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