June 30, 2014
Isis militants declare an Islamic state, or ‘caliphate’ in an area straddling the border between Iraq and Syria. Iraqi government forces are increasing security around Baghdad, and launching attacks to try to claw back some of the territory gained by the rebels. Meanwhile families fleeing the violence take refuge in makeshift camps
At least 1,500 British nationals are likely to have been recruited by extremists to fight in Iraq and Syria, a Birmingham MP has warned. Labour’s Khalid Mahmood said that with the increased radicalisation of young British Muslims in the past two years, the number who “will come back” to launch attacks in the UK was “certainly more than we are saying at the moment”.
“Originally you had the British Syrians settled here who wanted to go back and play a part, then you had the Kurdish community, then almost two years ago you had the young British Muslim community going across – so if you add all that up you’ve got serious figures that we need to look at. Those will come back – certainly more than we are saying at the moment – and we do need to look at that.” Mr Mahmood’s warning came as senior British security experts warned that the UK could be suffering from the repercussions of the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts for “many years” to come.
Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner and head of specialist operations, said Britain would feel the long-term consequences of the conflict, and young British Muslims who have travelled to fight in the war-torn country might commit violence when they returned.
Liam Fox, the former Defence Secretary, described the problem of fighters returning from the region as a “real worry”, and told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that the government needed to reassess the funding and powers given to the security services with this threat in mind.
Sheikh Zane Abdo, imam of the South Wales Islamic Centre said a “platform” should not have been given to the recruitment video for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) adding: “I guarantee that many young people who are very susceptible to this type of message will have watched that video and maybe have been encouraged to now go and follow in the footsteps of Nasser and his brother, which is a real problem, the fact that a platform has been given to this video that really shouldn’t have been given.”
Haras Rafiq, from the anti-extremist think tank the Quilliam Foundation, told Good Morning Britain that the strongest influence on young men who end up going out to the region was the internet.