Around 70 of the 350 British terror suspects who travelled to Syria to join the Islamic State and returned home may be plotting attacks in the United Kingdom, a report said on Thursday.
Scott Wilson, a senior U.K. Home Office official and national coordinator of the Protect and Prepare counter- terrorism programmes, told the Security and Counter Terror Expo here that these suspects pose a “high risk” to Britain.
Threat won’t go away so easily
“I cannot answer where it is going to go. It [the terrorism threat] is going to be with us for a long, long time,” he said this week.
According to The Times , he indicated that a fifth of the 350 so-called returning terror suspects were “high threat” extremists and suspected of plotting or wanting to carry out attacks in Britain. They are also keen to spread the extremist group’s propaganda and seek new recruits in the U.K.
Over 800 such militants
More than 800 British extremists are believed to have joined the IS in Iraq and Syria.
Meanwhile, an analysis by The Daily Telegraph found that one in three terrorists convicted of plotting attacks on British soil were able to enter the U.K. after training abroad.
Trained in war-torn countries
Preliminary research by the Henry Jackson Society think-tank and the newspaper found that of the 77 Britons convicted of major terror plots or attacks which posed an imminent threat to life since 1999, 27 had become trained or fought overseas in war-torn countries.
“Those who have sought training or combat experience abroad, and then come back to the U.K., are the most likely to be perpetrators of high impact mass casualty attacks or other serious offences,” said Hannah Stuart, a research fellow from the Henry Jackson society.
An examination of the major attacks and plots in the U.K. over the 15 year period found that 10 of the 13 ringleaders had travelled abroad for training or combat experience and returned to the U.K.
Indian-origin MP Keith Vaz, the House of Commons’ Home Affairs Select Committee chairman, said: “These figures are extremely concerning and what they show is that people are leaving our country without the authorities knowing that they are going.
“What we need to do is to stop them leaving in the first place because what is clear is that once they go they are further radicalised and when they return, no matter what programmes they are put on, it is very difficult to turn them around.”