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British government report: British volunteers who joined the ranks of terrorist organizations in Syria are a security threat.
British police and intelligence services are tracking about half of the British citizens who visited Syria and returned home, some of them already under arrest. Officials are concerned by the possibility of former volunteers in Syria coming back home after undergoing radicalization, having been encouraged to return and carry out terror attacks.
These are some of the conclusions presented in the recent Contest anti-terror government report. Its main conclusion: Syria is currently the foremost enemy of the United Kingdom. Britain’s Home Secretary Theresa May said: “The main threat to Britain continues to be radical Muslim terrorists. Many of these elements have contacts overseas, highlighting the significance of our anti-terror activities carried out as part of an international cooperation with other countries.”
According to the report the most significant terror development in 2013 originates in Syrian terrorist groups. Several factions of Al-Qaeda are active in Syria, supported by a growing number of foreign volunteers – several hundred from Britain alone and thousands from other countries. This leads to concerns over the radicalization process these volunteers are subjected to in Syria, including being urged to go back home and carry out terrorist attacks. The police and security services track the returning veterans and some arrests have already been made.
According to the Contest Report managing the terror threat originating from Syria is a complex process due to the large number of fighters involved with terrorist organizations, the relative proximity to Britain, the relative ease of border crossing and the high availability of weapons. By September 2013 257 terror suspects have been arrested in Britain, 48 were charged with terrorist activities and 73 others with terror-related offenses.
Britain’s Home Secretary added that the government is conducting an inter-departmental effort to contain and manage the terrorist threat: “We’re tightening the security at our borders, including at our airports, in addition to constantly improving emergency procedures in order to combat new terrorist methods and technologies.”
British experts believe that the content of this report might change the Cameron government’s policies as far as the Syrian civil war is concerned, as so far it has carefully avoided the issue of involvement in the war.