Britain will feel the repercussions of Syria and the rise of Islamic extremism within its own borders for ‘many years’ to come, a top counter-terrorism expert has said.
Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police’s assistant commissioner and head of specialist operations, warned that Britain would feel the long-term consequences of the conflict.
She said it represented a terrorist threat to the UK, and that young British Muslims who have travelled to the war-torn country to fight might commit violence when they return.
‘I’m afraid I believe that we will be living with the consequences of Syria – from a terrorist point of view, let alone the world, geopolitical consequences – for many, many, many years to come,’ Ms Dick told BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend.
Her warning came after footage emerged online apparently showing several young British jihadists in Syria in a recruitment video for the extremist militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis), in which they urge UK Muslims to join insurgents there and in Iraq.
Two have been identified as brothers from Cardiff – 20-year-old Nasser Muthana, and 17-year-old Aseel Muthana. Another has been identified as Reyaad Khan, 20, a former pupil at Cardiff’s Cantonian High School.
Two other men were arrested in March and April in the UK after they returned from Syria.
The pair, aged 19 and 23 and both also from Cardiff, were held on suspicion of receiving terrorist training and attending a place used for terrorist training, but were later released without charge.
From Wales to a warzone: Reyaad Khan (left) sits alongside fNasser Muthana, with a rifle resting on his knee, urging Britons to travel to Iraq and Syria
Nasser Muthana (left), who went to the same Cardiff sixth-form as Reyaad, is one of the Britons who have been radicalised. This picture on the right is understood to be Aseel Muthana, the 17-year-old younger brother of Nasser, who has travelled to the Middle East to fight
South Wales Police said in a statement: ‘We are increasingly concerned about the numbers of young people who have or are intending to travel to Syria to join the conflict.
‘The advice is to avoid all travel to Syria – anyone who does travel is putting themselves in considerable danger.
‘Travelling abroad for the purpose of engaging in terrorist related activity is an offence and we will seek to prosecute anyone engaged in this type of activity.
‘The issue is not unique to Cardiff or Wales and is a priority for police and security services across the UK.’
Police across the UK have made 65 Syria-related arrests over the last 18 months, including 40 in the first three months of this year alone.
A video showing men facing execution at the hands of ISIS, which has cut a swathe of terror across Syria and Iraq
Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan warned that radicalisation in prisons was a big problem and described the inadequacy of training for prison staff to deal with the issue as ‘shocking’.
Mr Khan said mosques do a good job in educating young people and called on the Government to concentrate on the spaces it can govern, such as prisons.
He told Sky News’s Murnaghan programme: ‘You speak to prison governors, as I do, prison officers, as I do – the inadequacy of the training is quite shocking.
Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan warned that radicalisation in prisons was a big problem and called on greater efforts to combat it
‘But also their inability to tackle this problem is a big issue and we should be doing much, much more.
‘There’s no point in politicians from this Government coming on with their heads in their hands, blaming parents or mosques – important roles that they have to play as well.’
Earlier, he told the programme: ‘The mosques actually do a good job. Actually most mums and dads don’t want their young sons, we’ve seen the father of the two sons in Cardiff, being radicalised.
‘The problem is with the internet now, with social media, with Twitter.
‘Our ability as parents or as governors of a mosque are less than they were and we’ve got to redouble our efforts to stop the source, these preachers of hate, getting into people’s bedrooms.
‘I think we’ve got to recognise that if you are a young person born and raised in this country and the first time somebody shows you a role model is a bearded man with a Kalashnikov in Afghanistan, or somebody doing bad things in Syria or Iraq, it’s a problem.’
Yesterday it emerged that around 500 Britons had travelled to Syria and Iraq – a higher estimate than the 400 claimed by Foreign Secretary William Hague.
Sir Peter Fahy, who leads on the Prevent counter-terrorism strategy for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said ‘huge amounts of material’ was being taken down from the internet every week as part of the effort to stop people being radicalised.
Another terrorism expert warned that it is ‘inevitable’ that jihadists returning from Syria and Iraq will pose a threat in Britain, saying that hundreds may have already returned.
The ISIS chief executioner Shakir Wahiyib, who was born in 1971 in Baghdad
Richard Barrett, a former head of counter-terrorism at MI6, estimated that ‘possibly up to 300 people have come back to the UK’ already, and warned that intelligence services faced an ‘impossible’ task in trying to track them.
He told The Independent on Sunday: ‘If you imagine what it would cost to really look at 300 people in depth, clearly it would be completely impossible to do that, probably impossible even at a third of that number.’
Mr Barrett said police and intelligence resources were stretched in terms of numbers and knowing where the returning jihadists are.
He said: ‘With this whole business in Syria, although there is no linear projection from foreign fighters to domestic terrorists, it’s inevitable that a number will fall into this category.’
Taking no prisoners: Footage posted on YouTube appears to show ISIS militants carrying out summary executions on dozens of captured soldiers in Syria
Mr Barrett has co-authored a report, released this month, which concludes that more than 12,000 foreign fighters have gone to Syria since the war began, and that it is ‘likely to be an incubator for a new generation of terrorists’.
Meanwhile the father of the Muthana brothers said his sons, both high achievers at school with good career prospects, must have been ‘brainwashed’ and believes a network of radical jihadi recruiters must have paid for them to go.
Mr Muthana said that he and his wife were ‘devastated’ when they found out from police in November that their eldest son Nasser had joined a terror cell in Syria.
In February police informed them their second son, Aseel, had obtained a second passport and travelled to Cyprus and was planning to join his brother.
Nasser was reported to have passed 14 GCSEs, was studying for his A-levels and had been offered places to study medicine at four universities before he became radicalised.
His brother Aseel was an A-level student at Fitzalan High School in Cardiff and had dreams of becoming an English teacher.
Mr Muthana, 57 who came to the UK in the 1970s from Yemen, told the Sunday Telegraph: ‘I feel sick and devastated my son is caught up in this – they were brought up to love and respect my country Britain. Now I fear they may come back in coffins.
‘I’m worried about their safety. But I am also worried about the evil messages Nasser is spreading in this vile video – I am concerned that other boys may follow him there.’
The brothers were part of a wider terror network that included two friends arrested months ago after they returned from the Middle East.
Yesterday thousands of young British Muslim men rallied against radical Islam amid the concerns that British jihadists are fighting in Syria.
An estimated 5,000 Muslims gathered in Surrey to pledge loyalty to Britain in light of concerns over the popularity of Isis and the alleged involvement of Britons.
The three-day residential event, organised by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (Amya), has brought together 5,000 young British Muslim men from England, Scotland and Wales, to foster bonds of brotherhood and affirm their pride in being British and Muslim.
WAS YOUNG WELSH MUSLIM RADICALISED BY THE INTERNET?
Recruitment video: Nasser Muthana urges Britons to take up arms and join ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria
The young Welsh muslim in a terror-recruiting video that has stunned his family was radicalised over the internet, a senior figure at his mosque has said.
Muslims in Cardiff were in shock yesterday as former medical student Nasser Muthana, 20, from Cardiff, was revealed to be one of the men in a video posted posted from Syria by accounts with links to Islamist militant group ISIS.
A second man from Cardiff is also believed to be in the video urging young British muslims to join the fight in Syria alongside Muthana’s younger brother Aseel, 17.
Saleem Kidwai, general secretary of the leading Muslim body, said he believed there were as many as five Welsh muslims already fighting in Syria and Iraq with the now-outlawed terror group Isis.
The mosque where Muthana worshipped yesterday denied being a source of radicalism and said that young people were being turned to extremism through the internet.
Barak Albayaty, a trustee at the mosque, the Al Manar Centre, said that Muthana had been ‘just like any other guy’ and he had been shocked to see him in the video.
He said: ‘What I’m sure of, being part of here, it’s not to be taken as a source of radicalism.
‘We’re against going to Syria for the armed struggle and have spelt this out on many occasions.’
He added: ‘It is worrying. We have to do something collective about the media and how these youths are getting affected.
VIA – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2664929/Terror-fallout-British-jihadists-fighting-Syria-felt-years-come-Britain-says-Met-Police-officer-warns-new-threat-Islamic-extremism.html
‘They’re affected by the internet. It’s not just Cardiff, it’s all over the UK. I’m told the numbers could be in the hundreds all over the UK.’
Mr Albayaty said there would be a meeting between trustees who will discuss the issue. He added that he felt for Muthana’s parents and added that members of the mosque were out in the community yesterday, picking up litter.
Mr Albayaty said: ‘It’s very important to show that we’re open.’
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