Nearly half of British citizens who travelled to Iraq and Syria to fight with Islamic State have returned to the United Kingdom, with Europol warning that their training in the Middle East means they are “exceptionally dangerous”.
According to Europol’s annual report, 45 per cent of Britain’s Islamist foreign fighters have returned, the largest proportion of returned jihadists out of the whole of the EU. Germany came second with 33 per cent of its citizens who travelled to the Middle East having returned, followed by Spain and the Netherlands, both on 18 per cent.
“Those that have returned garner kudos with like-minded individuals,” the report authors write.
“Their training and experience — such as handling weapons and explosives — makes them exceptionally dangerous. Furthermore, EU Member States’ ongoing concern is that these individuals can perpetuate and strengthen their networks both nationally and internationally.”
Report: Huge Cost of Monitoring Returned Jihadists Means Majority Roam Free in Britain https://t.co/VlkLUUlzae
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 21, 2019
The Telegraph reports that of the 400 jihadists who returned to the United Kingdom, just 40 have been prosecuted for terrorist activities.
In October 2017, current Director of Public Prosecutions Max Hill QC, who was then the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, said that British authorities were not prosecuting a large number of returning Islamist fighters, and that they should instead look towards “reintegration”.
Claiming that many of those who went to fight for Islamic State may have been youngsters who “travelled out of a sense of naivety, possibly with some brainwashing along the way”, Mr Hill expressed concern that prosecuting all British jihadists would risk “los[ing] a generation”.
In October 2018, it was reported that dozens of Islamic State brides from were to head back to Britain from Kurdish custody, with rising concern of the domestic security threat they may pose. A report by Europol released in mid-June warned that the terror group could begin actively recruiting women to the jihadist frontline, noting that female radical Islamists are “as ideologically motivated as their male counterparts” and that such women “are willing to use violence if the ideology allows them to do so”.
May Govt Admits ‘Significant Portion’ of Returned Islamic State Jihadists Going Unpunished https://t.co/IKVdAunzdk
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 5, 2018
Earlier this year, teen ISIS bride Shamima Begum spoke to media from a refugee camp in Syria, telling journalists that despite being unfazed by the sight of decapitated heads in bins and having no regrets about joining the terror group, she wanted to return to the United Kingdom.
Despite depicting herself as simply a jihadist’s housewife, allegations have surfaced that the 19-year-old was a cruel sharia law enforcer. It was determined that Ms Begum was a dual citizen of Britain and Bangladesh, with Home Secretary Sajid Javid deciding to strip her of her British citizenship along with at least two other female jihadists and barring her from returning to the UK.
Ms Begum and her family are challenging the decision.
OUT NOW! The new EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report, a concise overview of the nature of the terrorist threat the EU faced in 2018. All the details can be found in the TE-SAT 2019, available on our website: https://t.co/xFH6cS0hKC pic.twitter.com/PKnMmfsoRp
— Europol (@Europol) June 27, 2019
In terms of domestic terrorism, the Europol statistics revealed that Britain had the highest number of completed, failed, or foiled attacks in 2018 across the EU (60, in total) and had the second-highest number of arrests for terrorist activities, at 273, with France having the highest number of arrests at 310.
Countries with the fewest arrests were mainly in relatively homogenous central and eastern European countries, notably Poland (two), the Czech Republic (two), Slovakia (one), Croatia (two), and Romania (two).