Summer test for "Islamic State" call to young European radicals-EU official
* Caliphate declaration may attract radical students on summer break
* Caliphate, violence in Iraq show need for "immediate action"
* Nine EU countries agree to measures to counter jihadist risk
By Steve Scherer and Ilaria Polleschi
MILAN, July 8 (Reuters) - The long summer break will test the ability of the militant "Islamic State" group led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to draw radical Islamist students in Europe to fight in Iraq and Syria, an EU official said in Milan on Tuesday.
In Oslo, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder urged countries in Europe and elsewhere to do more to keep their own citizens from traveling to Syria to fight. He said countries could learn from U.S. undercover sting operations and use laws against preparing to commit attacks.
In a meeting held late Monday in Milan, nine European Union countries agreed to share intelligence and seek to fight radical Islam on the Internet to counter the risk of European citizens going to fight in Syria or Iraq bringing violence back home.
In the past month, the violence in Iraq and the declaration of a caliphate, an Islamic state, across parts of Iraq and Syria have heightened the importance of the European initiative, EU counter-terrorism coordinator Gille de Kerchove told reporters on Monday.
"The recent developments in Iraq will have a 'pull' impact on would-be jihadists. Summer is a period when a lot of teenagers are out of school so they might be tempted to do the trip," de Kerchove said on the sidelines of a meeting of EU interior ministers in Milan.
"Those who share the idea that the caliphate is the ultimate goal may be attracted to go there to be part of the process. It's clear the recent developments just reinforce the need for immediate action."
Mehdi Nemmouche, a 29-year-old Frenchman believed to have returned recently from fighting with Islamist militant rebels in Syria, was arrested for the May attack on the Brussels Jewish Museum that killed four.
At the time of his arrest, Nemmouche had a Kalashnikov wrapped in a flag with the inscriptions of ISIL, or the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, the militant group that has since renamed itself the Islamic State (IS).
The European states that deem themselves most at risk of jihadist violence - Britain, Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands - have spearheaded the plan, which will be expanded to include other willing EU countries, de Kerchove said. "When fully implemented, the measures will improve significantly the ability to detect would-be jihadists," he said.
The confidential action plan mainly contains improvements to information sharing and common screening guidelines.
In October there will be meetings with executives from major Internet companies - including Twitter, Facebook and Google - to discuss ways of shutting down web sites and barring messages that encourage violent militancy, de Kerchove said.
He also said that the European security measures are a good base for talks with the United States, which is "very eager to talk about these things".
U.S. Attorney General Holder, speaking in Oslo, urged Europeans to share information about travelers to Syria with the United States, which does not require visas for travelers from European Union countries.
"We have a mutual and compelling interest in developing shared strategies for confronting the influx of U.S.- and European-born violent extremists into Syria," Holder said, according to prepared remarks.
U.S. intelligence agencies estimate around 7,000 of the 23,000 violent extremists operating in Syria are foreign fighters, including dozens of Americans, he said.
The Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot, and a patchwork of Sunni insurgents are holding territory they seized in northern and western Iraq and the Sunni-majority enclaves in Syria, which is in the midst of a civil war that began more than three years ago.
(Reporting by Steve Scherer; editing by Ralph Boulton)