|Europe's Latest Export: Jihadists|
As the number of European jihadists in Syria grows, European officials are beginning to express concerns about the threat these "enemies within" will pose when they return to Europe.
In , for example, Foreign Secretary William Hague recently said, "Syria is now the number one destination for jihadists anywhere in the world today. This includes a number of individuals connected with the United Kingdom and other European countries. They may not pose a threat to us when they first go to Syria, but if they survive, some may return ideologically hardened and with experience of weapons and explosives."
Many of the British s in Syria have joined groups, including Jabhat al-Nusra, the most dangerous and effective Sunni jihadist group fighting against the Assad regime. Jabhat al-Nusra, linked to al-Qaeda, was declared a terrorist organization by the United States in December 2012. Due to a steady flow of money and arms from backers in , Qatar and other Sunni countries, the group has grown in size and influence.
According to the British newspaper The Independent, most of the British s participating in the fight against Assad "are not deemed to be doing anything illegal" and are thus able to reenter without any problems. The paper reports that only a small number of those who have returned to from the fighting in Syria have been , but all for one specific offense: their alleged role in the July 2012 kidnapping of a British freelance photographer, John Cantlie, after he crossed into Syria.
|Conflict in Syria creates wave of British jihadists|
|The bloody uprising against Bashar al-Assad is creating a new wave of jihadists in Britain, with Syria now the main destination for militant Muslims wishing to fight abroad, The Independent has learnt.|
Syria has replaced Pakistan and Somalia as the preferred front line where Islamist volunteers can experience immediate combat with relatively little official scrutiny, security agencies said.
The worrying development has been taking place as extremist groups, some with links to al-Qa’ida, have become the dominant force in the uprising against the Damascus regime.
More than 100 British Muslims are believed to have gone to fight in Syria with the numbers continuing to rise. The situation presents a unique problem for Western security and intelligence services. In Syria, unlike Pakistan and Somalia, they have to keep track of jihadists who are being backed by Britain and its allies.
The Syrian rebels are drawing recruits from a variety of national backgrounds in the UK. Only a handful of those who have returned from the fighting there have been arrested and all for a specific offence: their alleged role in the kidnapping of a British freelance photographer, John Cantlie, in Idlib province last summer. Others who have been taking part in the armed struggle against the Assad regime are not deemed to be doing anything illegal.
Thats why the British Government willingly pays them jizya(welfare) while they are fighting overseas.
|UK Police: New Arrest In Syria Kidnap Inquiry|
|[Ynet] British police say they've made another arrest as part of their investigation into the kidnapping of freelance photographers in Syria. John Cantlie and Jeroen Oerlemans say they were captured by Islamist fanatics in Syria and held there between July 17 and July 26.|
The photographers said that some of their captors spoke with British accents, raising concerns that UK s might be slipping into Syria to join fighting. Scotland Yard said Thursday that the 31-year-old man taken into custody had previously been earlier this month but had been released without charge.
|Four arrests over Syrian terrorist activity.|
|Four men have been arrested by detectives investigating travel to Syria in support of alleged terrorist activity.|
A 33-year-old man was arrested at Gatwick airport at 4.17pm yesterday as he attempted to take a flight out of UK.
Three other men - an 18-year-old, a 31-year-old and a 22-year-old - were arrested in dawn raids at separate addresses in east London.
A Met spokesman said: "They are all in custody at a south London police station where they will be interviewed by officers from the MPS's counter-terrorism command."
Searches are continuing at three residential addresses in east London.
Jubayer Chowdhury, 24, was arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism Command at Heathrow Airport in November after arriving on a flight from Bahrain and is now facing charges in connection with the alleged plot.
Shajul Islam, 26, a trainee NHS doctor, who studied at St Bartholomew's and a University of London Hospital, is also accused of being part of an extremist group which held John Cantlie, who worked for various newspapers including The Sunday Times, and Jeroen Oerlemans for around a week in the war-torn state.
|British Man Charged over Syria Journalist Kidnappings|
|[An Nahar] British police on Tuesday charged a man with kidnapping two Western journalists in Syria, one week after he was at London's Heathrow Airport, Scotland Yard said.|
Shajul Islam, 26, is alleged to have "unlawfully and injuriously imprisoned" photographers John Cantlie from , and Jeroen Oerlemans from the Netherlands, between July 17 and 26, it said in a statement.
Islam, who is , acted "together with others," it said.
He will appear in court on Wednesday.
A 26-year-old woman who was at the same time has been released without charge. She has not been named.
The man and the woman were by officers from the counter-terrorism command on October 9 after arriving on a flight from Egypt. Officers also searched two homes in east London.
Cantlie and Oerlemans were by suspected Islamist while covering the fighting between regime and rebel fighters.
They both suffered gunshot wounds when the Free Syrian Army, the main rebel movement, freed them from their captors.
The journalists said that between 10 and 15 of the kidnappers were British while others were from Pakistain and Bangladesh. Cantlie said one of them told him he was a doctor in .
Shortly after his release, Cantlie described how he and his colleague were regularly threatened with death.
"It was inferred that we would meet our god," he told the BBC. "We had sowed the seeds of our own destruction. We would be shot or beheaded.
"At one point they even started sharpening knives for a beheading. It was pretty frightening.
"When you're held captive, you're blindfolded and you have a guy sticking a gun at your head, it's very real," he added.
The photographer entered Syria from Turkey, the same route he had used previously, but was after passing through a camp.
"Their attitude was they were united under the Islamic flag, the wish to follow Sharia law, that they had come to Syria to fight the Assad regime, that Assad himself wasn't a true , but after that it was about imposing Sharia law on the Syrian people," he said at the time.
|'NHS doctor quizzed by terror police over Syria kidnap plot'|
|A Suspect Islamic fundamentalist thought to have fought in Syria while on sabbatical from his job as an NHS doctor was in custody last night.|
The man was arrested with his wife at Heathrow Airport on Monday after returning to Britain from Egypt.
Counter-terrorism officers suspect he was an AK-47 wielding medic among a gang of kidnappers in war-torn Syria.
The fanatics accused the men of working for the CIA before handcuffing and blindfolding them after they were shot when they attempted to escape.
The two hostages -- John Cantlie, who had worked for the Sunday Times, and Jeroen Oerlemans -- eventually ran away a week later with the help of the Free Syrian Army.
On returning to Britain, Mr Cantlie said a doctor with a strong London accent used a saline drip and other equipment with NHS branding to treat a gunshot wound to his arm.
Mr Cantlie said the heavily-bearded AK-47-wielding medic, of Pakistani descent, claimed to have taken a sabbatical from his work in London to treat injured fighters in Syria.
He told the prisoners he wanted to wage 'holy war' and that his experiences on the frontline would serve as good training for a career in treating trauma injuries.
The man, who said he had a wife and child in Britain and kept his face covered with sunglasses and a scarf, said he held a senior post at a South London A&E department.
The photographers were told during their ordeal that two Syrians would be beheaded for spying but they were eventually spared after repenting and promising to follow sharia law.
Mr Cantlie will now be asked if he recognises the man.
He previously said there were up to 15 British nationals at the terrorist camp where the men were held in northern Syria. On one occasion Mr Cantlie heard the doctor on the phone to his family. 'He was saying, "Hello babes, how's the little 'un? Put him on and let me hear him."'
At another point, the man even complained to the hostages about the state of the NHS.
Mr Cantlie said: 'I asked for his help as we were both from London but he refused to even send a text to my girlfriend to say we were alive. He said he would be beheaded if he did.
'It wasn't much fun expecting to end up on an execution video at the hands of extremists -- one of whom was treating Londoners like me a few months ago.'