Claim Of 400 ISIS Brits In Iraq Rejected

A man who worked alongside Western jihadi fighters says he knows of very few Britons fighting in Iraq as the Syrian war continues.

Bilal Abdul Kareem

 ‘400 Brits Not Fighting In Iraq’

Lahoor Talabani, director of counter terrorism for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)

Lahoor Talabani, director of counter-terrorism for the Kurdistan Regional Government, tells Sky News ISIS insurgents will target the UK if they are not dealt with.

An American film-maker who has been on the frontline with British fighters in Syria has rejected claims they pose a threat to the UK as “scaremongering”.

Bilal Abdul Kareem, who has worked extensively alongside Western jihadi fighters, also said that unlike in Syria, he knows of very few Britons fighting in Iraq.

Speaking to Sky News from Doha, he said: “I have been in contact with the British fighters as recently as this morning, and there may be one, maybe two that have gone out to Iraq – but why would they go to Iraq?

“The fight in Syria has not concluded, it’s still as hot as it ever was.”

He rejected claims made by senior Kurdish intelligence officer Lahoor Talabani that there are 400 Britons fighting in Iraq.

Mr Kareem told Sky News: “It appears that some people are looking for weaponry, they are looking for additional help and support from the West, so therefore they talk about 400 fighters that are currently there – even British intelligence never had an estimate of 400 fighters that have come and gone in total.

“So where did this magical, mystical number of 400, come from? I have my doubts.”

ISI fighter stands guard at checkpoint near the city of Biji
An ISIS fighter near the city of Baiji, north of Baghdad

On Wednesday, David Cameron warned of the threat to the UK if an “extreme Islamist regime” is created in central Iraq.

The Prime Minister said Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) fighters threatening the government in Baghdad were also plotting terror attacks on the UK – and that Britain could not ignore the security threat from jihadists in Iraq and Syria.

Yet Mr Kareem was cautious of the West intervening in the conflict emerging in Iraq, saying: “Any additional interference from the Americans is going to exasperate the situation.”

In December, Sky News gained exclusive access to a battalion of British fighters – not affiliated with ISIS – in Syria.

In a series of wide-ranging and frank interviews, they claimed they had no intention of attacking UK targets.

One of the men, identified as Mustafa, told Sky News: “A lot of Syrian people here feel like we are their protectors and that we have come here to help them, but people from England don’t feel like that.

“They simply have an equation in mind, where they see, it’s very simple – Muslim man, travels abroad, to a war zone, he’s a terrorist – that’s the equation.”

Downing Street said 65 people have been arrested in the past 18 months for Syria-related jihadist activities.

A spokesman was unable to say how many of those arrested were supporters or members of ISIS.

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