Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism officer has said that almost half of British jihadists who travelled to Syria have evaded police detection.
The Times says Mark Rowley, of London’s Metropolitan Police, made the admission as he called for friends and relatives to report people they believe to be “aspiring terrorists”, saying there was “a lot at stake” following the killing of American journalist James Foley.
He said that the growth in the number of radicalised individuals was posing a serious problem for police, especially as nearly half of those travelling to Syria were previously unknown to them.
Mr Rowley added that police activity had been “escalating for many months” as the threat has grown, saying that 69 Syria-related arrests have been made so far this year.
He also said that police are currently working to remove around 800 pieces of Jihadi propaganda from sites such as Facebook and Youtube.
The government estimates that around 500 Brits are currently fighting for Jihadist groups in Syria, including ISIS, however the real number by be far higher as the lack of border controls in the region makes it easy for would-be Jihadists to enter the country without being detected.
Mr Rowley said: “We are appealing to the public, family members and friends to help identify aspiring terrorists… Every reasonable person in the country has been touched by the pitiless murder of James Foley at the hands of Islamic State terrorists.”
“There is a lot at stake. We all need community and religious leaders to continue to speak out against warped narratives and we need everyone to ensure that public debate does not give oxygen to the terrorists,” he added.