European security officials estimate that 30 to 40 suspected ISIS terrorists who helped support the November 13 Paris terror attacks are still at large, CNN has learned.
This development comes as European officials told CNN they believe ISIS is ratcheting up its planning for international attacks to retaliate for losses in Syria, Iraq and Libya.
An exclusive CNN report this week showed the Paris slaughter, which killed 130 people, was meant to be broader and include other countries, such as the Netherlands. CNN also reported information from the Belgian prosecutor that a man allegedly linked to the Paris attackers was on the loose for months after authorities learned of his existence.
“The outlook is as bleak as it has ever been,” said Paul Cruickshank, editor of CTC Sentinel, a publication issued by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, and a terrorism analyst for CNN. Characterizing the mood at a recent high-level European conference on counter-terrorism, Cruickshank said, “We’re talking beyond severe concern.”
The European countries most firmly in the crosshairs are launching air strikes against ISIS with the US-led coalition: France, Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK and Denmark, as well as Germany, which is flying target reconnaissance sorties.