Britons who want to join ISIS are using Canada as a staging post on their journey to foreign battlefields, UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has warned.
He said the tactics used by radicalised extremists to escape detection were becoming ‘increasingly sophisticated’ and it was a ‘continuing struggle’ for the security services to keep tabs on people from the UK determined to travel to the region.
Speaking in the Commons, Mr Hammond said: “People that are trying to take this journey are becoming increasingly sophisticated. I have seen reports recently of journeys which are routed via Canada to get to Turkey and then into Syria rather than going directly from the UK. So it is a continuing struggle.”
He was responding to a question from Labour MP Keith Vaz about the number of Britons travelling to Syria and Iraq and Yemen in order to fight for ISIS and for al Qaida in the South Arabian peninsula.
‘What discussions are you having with international partners to try and stop this from happening?’, Mr Vaz said.
According to Scotland Yard, some 700 British citizens are thought to have travelled to Syria and Iraq and there are growing fears about them returning to the UK to plot terror attacks here.
Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, the national police lead for counter-terrorism, said last month that more than half of the arrests were related to Syria. He disclosed that a record 338 people were detained on suspicion of terrorism offences in 2014/15 – a rise of a third compared to the previous year.
Airlines operating in the UK have been told to check all teenagers boarding flights to Turkey about whether they plan to join ISIS under new plans. It followed the case of three south London schoolgirls – Kadiza Sultana, Amira Abase, and Shamima Begum – who flew out of Britain to join ISIS in February.