Security services 'failing' to stop British jihadis heading to Syria
They called it "blowback" - the British jihadis, allowed to travel to Afghanistan to fight the Russians, who then laid the seeds of a serious security threat to the UK. Could the same thing now be happening in Syria?
An investigation by The Sunday Telegraph has established that fundamentalist groups in the Syrian civil war are recruiting growing numbers of young people from Britain with no previous links to the country. MPs, community leaders and anti-extremism campaigners are deeply worried that a new generation is being radicalised in Syria, in the same way as British bombers and terror plotters of the past decade were schooled along the Afghan-Pakistan border. But the British security authorities appear to be taking little or no action.
One such young Londoner is understood to be Alshafie Elsheikh, 23, from White City in west London, who travelled to Syria this spring, according to Dr Salah al Bander, a former Liberal Democrat councillor and director of the Sudanese Diaspora and Islamism Project at the Sudan Civic Foundation. Mr Elsheikh is of Sudanese, not Syrian, ancestry - and told Dr al Bander that he knew of more than 20 others like him preparing to travel to the fight.
"He told me before he left that he was going to join the jihad brigades in Syria, describing it as a holy cause," said Dr al Bander. "He said he was joining two other UK-based mujahideen, one of Somali origin and the other from Morocco.
"He said they weren't trained in using firearms but had been preparing for the trip since last year by doing very advanced physical exercises. When I asked him about the numbers of his associates that were planning to go to Syria, he said that as far he knew there were 21 individuals ready to leave the UK very soon." (...)