Britiske myndigheter er alvorlig bekymret for antallet britiske jihadister i Syria. Det snakked om 300. Med britisk pass kan de reise fritt i Europa.
Ungdommer helt ned i 16 år reiser.
Intelligence sources told The Telegraph that Britons make up the largest contingent out of about 1,000 Westerners fighting with Islamist groupsagainst the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
France and Australia each have about 200 citizens fighting in Syria, with others coming from countries including the US and Canada.
On Tuesday, Richard Walton, the head of Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command, said that children as young as 16 were travelling to Syria to fight.
At det reiser 200 jihadister kloden rundt fra Australia, sier noe om Syrias tiltrekningskraft. Det er blitt den sterkeste rekrutteringsfaktor siden kampen mot sovjeterne i Afghanistan. Selv ikke Irak under Bush hadde samme samlende kraft.
Rekrutteringen/vervingen foregår via sosiale medier der jihadistene skryter av sine bedrifter.
Britene ser på disse Syria-farerne som den største sikkerhetstrussel de har stått overfor.
A senior Whitehall source said: “The large number of British Muslims travelling to Syria to wage jihad against the Assad regime is developing into a major security issue for the UK. They are openly associating with Islamist terror groups like al-Qaeda, and the concern is that, once they have finished fighting in Syria, they will try to return home and wage jihad on the streets of Britain.
“Not only will they be battle-hardened as a result of their experience in Syria, they will also have been trained in all the latest terrorist techniques.”
Richard Walton fra Scotland Yards kontraterrorenhet, sier det ikke har gått opp for publikum hvilken trussel Syria-farerne utgjør. Syria er en gamechanger, sier han.
Mr Walton, speaking at a conference organised by the business group London First, said there were already indications that Britons were returning from Syria with orders to carry out attacks, with the Metropolitan Police carrying out a “huge number of operations” to protect the public.
He said: “I don’t think the public realises the seriousness of the problem. The penny hasn’t dropped. But Syria is a game-changer. We are seeing it every day. You have hundreds of people going to Syria, and if they don’t get killed they get radicalised. So it’s the impact when they come back.
“I think the implications over the next three to five years are very profound. We have got probably around 200 Britons who have gone to Syria and some have returned.”