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Iraq: 'More Than 1,500' British Jihad Recruits

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Iraq: 'More Than 1,500' British Jihad Recruits

Post by Sabre on 23/6/2014, 13:51

More than 1,500 young Britons may have been recruited by extremists fighting in Iraq and Syria, an MP has told Sky News.

Khalid Mahmood said the radicalisation of young British men is a problem that has steadily grown in recent years and could be much more serious than previously thought.

The Birmingham MP's comments suggest the number of would-be jihadists is much greater than ACPO anti-terrorism chief Sir Peter Fahy's estimate of 500 - the highest figure previously mentioned.

Foreign Secretary William Hague has claimed that around 400 young British men had travelled to the region.

Mr Mahmood told Sky News: "I imagine 1,500 certainly would be the lower end. If you look across the whole of the country, there's been a number of people going across.

Reyaad Khan (L) and Nasser Muthana (C) appeared in an ISIS video

"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.

"Some of them go out there for nine months, some go out there for a year, some will just go out for six months or so.

"So we need to look at exactly how this is happening, what our border controls are like and we really need to bolster those border controls in order to ensure that we see the people coming through and deal with them."

The problem of radicalisation was highlighted when two Cardiff students appeared in a propaganda video for ISIS posted on YouTube.

Police and the local Muslim community are working to establish how Reyaad Khan, 20, Nasser Muthana, also 20, and his brother Aseel, 17, were lured to join extremists fighting in Syria and Iraq.

Sheikh Zane Abdo said the young men must have been groomed

Video has emerged of notorious Saudi cleric Mohammed al Arifi preaching at Cardiff's Al Manar mosque, which the trio attended before leaving home to join the insurgency.

Mr al Arifi is banned from Switzerland for his extremist views - but has visited the UK several times.

Trustees at the mosque have suggested the young men may have been radicalised online, rather than by members of Cardiff's Muslim community.

Sheikh Zane Abdo, Imam of the South Wales Islamic Centre, told Sky News he had turned down an offer from Mr al Arifi to preach at his mosque.

He said he knew the Muthana brothers but they did not attend his mosque, where he has warned against travelling to fight in Iraq and Syria since he heard they had left home.

Sheikh Abdo said the men may have been radicalised via the internet, but that they must have been groomed and received material support to join the conflict in the Middle East.

He told Sky: "How does a 16-year-old, in the middle of his GCSEs leave Cardiff and head across the world to go and fight? You can't learn that on Facebook or YouTube or Twitter.

"These are intelligent boys. People would have to have sat, speak to them - argument and counter-argument - to convince them."

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