Hundreds of British Jihadists in Syria

Con Coughlin and Gordon Rayner, Telegraph (London), December 3, 2013

More than 300 Britons are fighting with jihadist groups in Syria, raising concern that they will return trained in the latest terrorist techniques.

Syria is considered within Whitehall as a greater threat to national security than the al-Qaeda heartlands on the Afghan-Pakistan border because of the sheer numbers of British Islamists heading to the war zone.

Intelligence sources told The Telegraph that Britons make up the largest contingent out of about 1,000 Westerners fighting with Islamist groups against 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.

The prospect of hundreds of battle-hardened extremists returning to Britain with sophisticated training and practical experience of bomb-making and weaponry has become a grave cause of concern in recent months.

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.”

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.”

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, is considering stripping terrorism suspects of their citizenship by cancelling their passports if they go abroad to fight, preventing them from returning to Britain.

Such a move would leave jihadists stateless, but Mrs May has repeatedly said that a British passport is a “privilege, not a right”. She has revoked the British passports of 16 dual nationality terrorism suspects and plans to go further by passing a law that would allow her to do the same with people who have only one nationality.

Last month Andrew Parker, the head of MI5, told a parliamentary committee that Syria had become “a very attractive place for . . . those who support or sympathise with the al-Qaeda ideological message”.

Some of the jihadists are using social media websites to boast about their experiences of “five-star jihad” in the hope of encouraging others to follow them. They include Islamists from London and Portsmouth.

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  • D.B. Cooper

    Do NOT fear the British, boys. All you have to do is call them a bunch of racists, and they will cower in fear.

    • dukem1

      Sometimes I think that soon England will get a new king..maybe that guy who has spent a lot of time in the service..he could be hard-core, militaristic even, vis-a-vis the Mohammedan influence in his country…properley expel them, or at least subjugate them…that is the language they understand…could be a win-win.

      • Pioneer

        Oh Allah, waitha aradna an nuhlika qaryatan amarna mutrafeeha fafasaqoo feeha fahaqqa AAalayha alqawlu fadammarnaha tadmeeran

  • Pro_Whitey

    Just one more piece of evidence that white countries have been giving away citizenship far too cheaply and without sufficient reason. We should expect that naturalized citizens be even more in favor of their adopted country and more disconnected from their prior allegiances. However, it is just the opposite. Here in the U.S., as one example, we have Joker Tsarnaev, who became a U.S. citizen about 6 months before joining his brother in bombing the Boston Marathon.

    • Erasmus

      The government of the UK needs to cancel their passports as they’re proposing. The US government must also cancel the passports of “American” jihadis when they go abroad to fight.

      Only the leaders of countries on their last legs would give away their country’s citizenship so cheaply to so much 3rd world trash.

  • MekongDelta69

    five-star jihad” – What is that? A high-end Muslim hotel chain?!

    They’re no more ‘British’ than I am a Martian…

  • More than 300 Britons are fighting with jihadist groups in Syria, raising concern that they will return trained in the latest terrorist techniques.

    Then don’t let them back in.

    It’s not as if they’re really Britons anyway.

    • Zaporizhian Sich

      Moreover, put a price on their heads, dead or alive. Preferably dead.

  • Revoke their citizenship already.
    It’s a no-brainer.

  • JohnEngelman

    As bad as dictator Bashar Assad is, what replaces him is likely to be worse.

    • IstvanIN

      Why is he bad? Because he prevents one faction of Muslim from killing the other factions along with the Christians?

    • Unfortunately, you’re right. I also don’t think that Bashar Assad is really running things there. The notion of a hereditary dictatorship is just silly. The concept means that it does not matter who the nominal figurehead is, and that the army is really in charge.

  • Ragehol .

    Stop letting muslim trash in White countries.

  • Erasmus

    These jihadis are no more British than those Somalis living in Oslo and Stavanger are Norwegian. (George Soros may be rich, but he’ll never force free people to acknowledge that 3rd world trash imported to Europe will be anything more than third world trash.)

  • IstvanIN

    Those Scots are always causing problems. HM’s government will be much better off when they go their own way.

    • Xerxes22

      Scotland is having its referendum next september, only nine months from now. If the Scots vote yes, they leave the Uk and they take their oil with them. No more United Kingdom.

      • Zaporizhian Sich

        if they do secede, let’s hope after that, they will expel the Muslims, Scots do not want to be ruled by aliens, especially aliens that despise them.

        • saxonsun

          Please. The Scots have already succumbed.

          • Zaporizhian Sich

            If anyone succumbed, it’s their treacherous ruling class. What they deserve is a visit at three in the morning.

      • watling

        They’ll also take the Royal Bank of Scotland’s debt with them and descend into the poverty that English taxpayers’ money is currently saving them from.

        • I doubt it. Do you really imagine that England will continue to receive that North Sea oil for free? That will all be in Scotland’s EEZ.

    • “The Scots are always causing problems.”


  • Lord_Steven_Regal

    HUNDREDS. Not a couple fringe weirdos, but a whole segment of British society who are jihadists that detest Britain’s history and its native people. Thanks, multiculturalists.

  • Extropico

    “British Islamists”… I liked the way the authors inserted a joke within the context of their article. Good one, fellas.

  • Zaporizhian Sich

    Cancelling their passports, what a great idea. When they enter the country and find their passports invalid, that will be the cue for MI-6 or MI-5 to move in and arrest them for terrorism related charges. It is usually illegal to fight for a foreign government to begin with.

    • It depends. In the USA, joining the armed forces of a foreign nation voids one’s US citizenship, but male foreign exchange students here are expected to register for the US draft. In the French Foreign Legion, one swears loyalty to the unit and not to the French government, so doing this does not lunch US citizenship.

      These “British” jihadis are likely placing themselves in a different sort of bind, as most developed nations have very strict laws about their citizens committing terrorist acts wherever they may travel. The US, for instance has jailed at least one citizen on murder and conspiracy charges for acts he committed in Afghanistan. Had he not been a citizen, he would have been an “unlawful combatant” but not a criminal.

  • DaveMed

    Race aside, I’m sure there was a time in Britain when people of such persuasion would not have been considered “British” in the slightest.

  • Strike_Team

    These individuals were never British to begin with.

  • Spartacus

    Let’s hope they die there.

  • deadindenver

    What are they waiting for?

  • curri

    A good idea would be to tell the USG (and its Saudi and Israeli allies) to stop supporting the jihad against the Syrian Assad govt.

    • I doubt Israel is offering support to the Syrian rebels. Israel and Syria have not fought a major stand-up battle since the 1982 fracas in Lebanon. I suspect they feel it is better to deal with Assad than an Al Qaida-run Syria. The Saudi government has been supporting the Syrian rebels, a policy which I now believe to be misguided. They are Sunni Muslims, and Alawite minority that runs Syria is Shi’ite. My suspicion is that the Saudis would like to help liquidate a government they regard as an Iranian satellite.

  • watling

    Obama was in favour of going to war against the Assad regime. The only difference between him and the jihadists is that he would have been sitting in a comfortable chair in a nice office thousands of miles away whilst others did his fighting for him.

  • scutum

    Coming soon to a city near you in the USA. It is clear to me that the elitists in Washington will do nothing to secure our borders and ports until a weapon of mass destruction goes off in one of our cities. The upside is that most of our large cities do not have any Americans in them anymore. They are now occupied by the dregs of the third world, or large numbers of obsolete farm equipment.