UK Defections to ISIS ‘May Be More Widespread Than Thought’

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Britain needs to be vigilant as many more young Muslims are travelling to Syria to join ISIS than previously realised, a senior politician has said. Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, made his comments last night following the news that three teenagers hoping to become ISIS fighters had been apprehended in Turkey.

Until recently it was thought that around 500 men had travelled from Britain to Syria to fight alongside ISIS forces with the aim of establishing a Muslim Caliphate across the middle East. But there are growing concerns that the government, intelligence agencies and police have woefully underestimated the situation, and that the true numbers could run into the thousands, the Express has reported.

On Saturday, three Muslim youths, two aged 17 and one aged 19, were returned to the UK by Turkish authorities. They had been apprehended in Istanbul after a tip off from British police on Friday when it became apparent that they were missing.

Two of the boys, none of whom has been named, are thought to have come from north west London. All three are now being held in a central London police station, having been arrested on suspicion of preparing terrorist acts. None has yet been officially charged.

Speaking last night, Labour MP Keith Vaz said that the arrests highlighted the need for vigilance on the part of the authorities and of parents.

“I welcome the action that has been taken by the Turkish authorities,” Vaz said. “We need to prevent people going in the first place and that is why parents need to be vigilant but we also need cooperation from the Turkish authorities in order to stop them from going further.

“We need to be vigilant. Clearly this flight of young people to Turkey in order to go to Syria is on a much larger scale than we envisaged.”

A spokesman for Scotland Yard has said: “All three have been taken to a central London police station, where they remain in custody. Inquiries continue.”