The Islamic State has trained 400 to 600 fighters specifically for external attacks, deploying interlocking terror cells like the ones that struck Brussels and Paris.
The ringleader of the Nov. 13 Paris attacks claimed to have entered Europe in a multinational group of 90 fighters.
French speakers with links to North Africa, France and Belgium appear to be leading the units and are responsible for developing attack strategies in Europe, said a European security official. The fighters include Muslims and Muslim converts from all across Europe.
“Special units have been set up. The training is longer. And the objective appears to no longer be killing as many people as possible but rather to have as many terror operations as possible,” the security official said.