Orban: Illegal migration clearly linked with terrorism. Experts: Wait a minute…

Illegal migration clearly linked with terror threat: Hungary PM Orban just said.  Following this statement could you please shortly comment on this? Do you see any real link between migration and terrorism or basically PM Orban statement has very little to do with reality? Read few comments.

Christian KaunertProfessor of International Politics, University of Dundee

That’s really quite a complicated issue. Theoretically, of course it is possible that some terrorists could be among irregular migrant groups. After all, many people returning from Syria and Lybia might find it easier to return that way, given how intelligence is getting better nowadays. Several police organisations, like the Spanish or Italian, have warned about this.

However, while it is plausible, the statistical chance is still fairly low. The vast majority or irregular migrants have nothing to do with terrorism, in fact, many of them from Syria and Lybia, are fleeing from political violence. The rise in irregular migration does not cause more terrorists to flee. It is rather the increase in political violence and conflict in the Middle East, Africa and Asia that is causing increasing irregular migration.

As such, Orbans statement are wrong. In fact, they are dangerous because they make it harder for people to empathise with migrants by labelling them as threats. Already, people do not show enough empathy towards people in precarious situations. This just makes this worse!

Giacomo OrsiniResearch Student, Department of Sociology, University of Essex

As for your actual question, it is clear that PM Orban is lying: there is no empirical data confirming any actual relation between undocumented migrants/asylum seekers’ border crossing and the occurrence of terrorist acts. He is probably trying to legitimize a meaningless policy (the building of the wall) and/or looking for more political consensus. Eventually, he is trying to create a migration ’emergency’ so that he will be able to beg some money in Brussels while increasing Hungary’s standing at the EU policymaking level. Also, if you create a ‘migrants issue’ so that he will be able to rely on an easy scapegoat in the future.

Lorenzo NannettiInternational Affairs Analyst

You’re asking me for a short answer to a complex matter… let’s start with this: politicians – especially demagogues – who want to arouse popular support for their policies by rising fear levels among their population tend to simplify things a lot. In Italy we see that with Matteo Salvini (Lega Nord), in Hungary it’s Orban who is doing this. Migration = terrorism is easy enough for people to grasp it and immediately support any move against both. Those who contend it have to explain at length, people don’t understand, and the message gets lost – especially with low-schooled people.

Saying terror is linked to migration is partially true: terrorists often control migrants flows, terrorists may recruit from non-integrated migrants later, etc… But keeping it so general, without going into details on what it means, it’s just demagogy. To gain votes. Because using that concept people only understand one meaning: terrorists are moving through migration; therefore stop migration and you stop terrorism And this isn’t true. They are two different things. Terrorists usually move regardless of migration, and they would move even with zero migration. Some may use that, but that’s not the main route. So Orban is basically deceiving his own people, because it’s useful for political gains, and most people aren’t experts enough to understand this. They may even refuse to go deeper in knowledge on this as it’s easier – and more convenient – not to do it.

And this is even more dangerous: ultimately politicians like Orban tend to HELP terrorism (of course unwillingly) because they actually confirm the terrorist’s message to gain recruits (the West is evil, they want us all dead, etc…) – this polarization of positions is what actually reinforces terrorism instead of the other way around – that is why such policies are dangerous, from a security perspective, more than migration. They help recruitment, they give easy propaganda terrorism can make use of, etc…

At the same time, bad management of migration flows and integration may later prove useful to terrorism for recruiting, but that is our (Europe’s) flaw, not migrants’.

Alexander Spencer, Assistant Professor, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich

I do not see a direct link between illegal immigration and terrorism. Most known terrorists in the West (9/11, London, Madrid, Paris etc.) have entered the country legally as tourists, students, with a work permit or were home-grown terrorist which were radicalised in the West. It makes little sense for terrorists to choose an illegal means of entering a country if it is far easier and safer for them to come through the normal channels. By linking terrorism to illegal immigration you are contributing to the polarisation between populations and preparing the ground for further radicalization on both sides.


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