250 UK extremist militants return home: Daily

250 UK extremist militants return home: Daily
Mon Feb 17, 2014 19:06:23

Around 250 British militants have returned to the UK after training and fighting in Syria, a senior Whitehall security official told the Sunday Times.

Security services are monitoring the “extremist tourists”, fearing they might carry out attacks at home, the official told the Times.

Ministers have been informed that more than 400 Britons went to Syria to engage in militant activities, and “Well over half of those who traveled out have come back,” the official added.

Senior security officials say the number of “returnees” is now five times the previously reported figure, highlighting the growing threat of so–called ‘extremist tourists’ going to warzones and returning home hardened militants.

"For some, their war is done, others will help others travel to Syria, while others will raise funds for fighting," the Whitehall source said.

The security services are said to be closely monitoring the 250 returnees, who include several veteran hardliners who have fought in Afghanistan or Pakistan. Many others have participated in combat or received training in munitions or other skills applicable to terror operations, with some exhibiting a willingness to carry out attacks in the UK, security officials cited in the report said.

“There are a few hundred people going out there. They may be injured or killed, but our biggest worry is when they return they are radicalized, they may be militarized, they may have a network of people that train them to use weapons,” London police chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe told the paper.

Earlier, Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshiresaid in a statement that there “up to 200 UK nationals” fighting in Syria “who may come in to contact with extremist groups that aspire to attack Western countries.”

He said that the British government “is determined to detect, disrupt and where possible prosecute all terrorist threats.”

“We know there is a risk of individuals returning to the UK after being radicalized, but they should be in no doubt that the police and intelligence agencies are working to identify and disrupt potential threats and protect national security. The police have the power to examine and detain individuals at the UK border to investigate any concerns of terrorism involvement.”

Reports of the returnees come after the details regarding the first suicide attack carried out by a British national in Syria were made available.


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