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More than 400 former jihadi fighters back in Britain, say security sources

UK authorities are facing an increased terror threat from battle-hardened fighters returning from Mosul and other conflict zones in Iraq and Syria. Security sources have told Sky News more than 400 former fighters are now believed to be back in Britain. The authorities believe there is a growing risk the UK could suffer the kind of mass gun and bomb attacks seen in France and Belgium recently, as many returning fighters will have been trained in the use of weapons and the construction of improvised explosive devices. It is a serious, two-pronged challenge for the police and security services, who are already working flat-out to counter the threat from homegrown lone-wolf extremists, like Khalid Masood, who launched last week’s deadly attack on Westminster.

:: The battle for Mosul: A timeline1

Former Scotland Yard Specialist Firearms Officer and author Tony Long said combating an attack launched by a well-trained returning jihadist could be a tough prospect. He said: “These are combat-hardened soldiers . They might not be trained in the way that NATO might train their soldiers but they’ve seen more close quarter conflict and more urban fighting than probably most members of the British Armed Forces and you have to respect that.

“Of course they’re bringing that knowledge back with them to the UK and it’s very very difficult because of the legal restrictions that are put on the security services and the police to actually monitor all of these people.”

To date, only a fraction of those returning from the battlefields of Syria and Iraq have been prosecuted, as authorities need enough evidence to put before the courts and often returning fighters go to great lengths to cover up their overseas activities. Imran Khawaja, 29, from west London, is currently serving 12 years in prison after he faked his own death in Syria in an attempt to sneak back into the UK undetected. Khawaja had joined a militant group with links to so-called Islamic State while overseas. He was pictured posing with the severed heads of Syrian soldiers during his six months in the country. He was arrested as he tried to re-enter the UK through the port of Dover and later admitted preparing for acts of terrorism, attending a camp, receiving training and possessing firearms.

Security sources said they could not be certain that Khawaja would have launched an attack back home, but the pattern of returning jihadists posing a major risk to national security is well established. More than a decade ago, groups of al Qaeda trained terrorists were responsible for mass carnage in Europe and the United States. Those who launched the devastating attack on the London transport system on 7 July 2005 had attended al Qaeda training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Some of the terrorists who launched a similar failed attack on London on 21 July 2005 had received weapons and explosives training, as had some of the plotters who planned to blow up airliners with liquid bombs in 2006. :: Traumatised children of Mosul2

Security expert Professor Tahir Abbas from the Royal United Services Institute said: “The police and security services are certainly preparing for all eventualities, because in Britain, we’ve had our lessons from the past. “These returning fighters pose a number of threats in relation to security here. “They’ve been through a lot of very traumatic conflict and engagement, often involved in street-to-street fighting.

“Now, having made their way back to Britain, they pose a particular threat because of their capacity – and perhaps they’ve been instructed to return, hold fire and wait for the go ahead to launch attacks.

“They are likely to be traumatised, but also extremely experienced and well trained individuals who pose a serious risk.” With the growing threat from returning fighters, emergency services have been increasing their training to respond to gun and bomb attacks. On March 19, more than 200 police officers carried out a training exercise on the River Thames, where police firearms teams boarded a boat in a training scenario involving dozens of hostages. The UK government has provided millions of pounds in extra funding to help Chief Constables across country to increase their firearms capability to respond to a terrorist attack.

:: Watch a special programme, The Battle For Mosul, at 7pm on Monday on Sky News.

References

  1. ^ :: The battle for Mosul: A timeline (news.sky.com)
  2. ^ :: Traumatised children of Mosul (news.sky.com)

More than 400 former jihadi fighters back in Britain, say security …

UK authorities are facing an increased terror threat from battle-hardened fighters returning from Mosul and other conflict zones in Iraq and Syria. Security sources have told Sky News more than 400 former fighters are now believed to be back in Britain. The authorities believe there is a growing risk the UK could suffer the kind of mass gun and bomb attacks seen in France and Belgium recently, as many returning fighters will have been trained in the use of weapons and the construction of improvised explosive devices. It is a serious, two-pronged challenge for the police and security services, who are already working flat-out to counter the threat from homegrown lone-wolf extremists, like Khalid Masood, who launched last week’s deadly attack on Westminster.

:: The battle for Mosul: A timeline1

Former Scotland Yard Specialist Firearms Officer and author Tony Long said combating an attack launched by a well-trained returning jihadist could be a tough prospect. He said: “These are combat-hardened soldiers . They might not be trained in the way that NATO might train their soldiers but they’ve seen more close quarter conflict and more urban fighting than probably most members of the British Armed Forces and you have to respect that.

“Of course they’re bringing that knowledge back with them to the UK and it’s very very difficult because of the legal restrictions that are put on the security services and the police to actually monitor all of these people.”

To date, only a fraction of those returning from the battlefields of Syria and Iraq have been prosecuted, as authorities need enough evidence to put before the courts and often returning fighters go to great lengths to cover up their overseas activities. Imran Khawaja, 29, from west London, is currently serving 12 years in prison after he faked his own death in Syria in an attempt to sneak back into the UK undetected. Khawaja had joined a militant group with links to so-called Islamic State while overseas. He was pictured posing with the severed heads of Syrian soldiers during his six months in the country. He was arrested as he tried to re-enter the UK through the port of Dover and later admitted preparing for acts of terrorism, attending a camp, receiving training and possessing firearms.

Security sources said they could not be certain that Khawaja would have launched an attack back home, but the pattern of returning jihadists posing a major risk to national security is well established. More than a decade ago, groups of al Qaeda trained terrorists were responsible for mass carnage in Europe and the United States. Those who launched the devastating attack on the London transport system on 7 July 2005 had attended al Qaeda training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Some of the terrorists who launched a similar failed attack on London on 21 July 2005 had received weapons and explosives training, as had some of the plotters who planned to blow up airliners with liquid bombs in 2006. :: Traumatised children of Mosul2

Security expert Professor Tahir Abbas from the Royal United Services Institute said: “The police and security services are certainly preparing for all eventualities, because in Britain, we’ve had our lessons from the past. “These returning fighters pose a number of threats in relation to security here. “They’ve been through a lot of very traumatic conflict and engagement, often involved in street-to-street fighting.

“Now, having made their way back to Britain, they pose a particular threat because of their capacity – and perhaps they’ve been instructed to return, hold fire and wait for the go ahead to launch attacks.

“They are likely to be traumatised, but also extremely experienced and well trained individuals who pose a serious risk.” With the growing threat from returning fighters, emergency services have been increasing their training to respond to gun and bomb attacks. On March 19, more than 200 police officers carried out a training exercise on the River Thames, where police firearms teams boarded a boat in a training scenario involving dozens of hostages. The UK government has provided millions of pounds in extra funding to help Chief Constables across country to increase their firearms capability to respond to a terrorist attack.

References

  1. ^ :: The battle for Mosul: A timeline (news.sky.com)
  2. ^ :: Traumatised children of Mosul (news.sky.com)

Ex-soldier stole 300 from safe at security office of New Cross Hospital

A former soldier who completed two tours of Iraq has been ordered to pay more than 700 after he admitted stealing 300 from New Cross Hospital.

Father-of-three Lee Rowlands, aged 30, of Evans Street, Whitmore Reans, pleaded guilty at Walsall Magistrates’ court on Thursday after being charged with theft by an employee. The court heard how Rowlands, who previously spent six years in the army and completed two tours of Iraq, stole 300 from an unsecured safe at the car parking security office of New Cross Hospital. He was working as a security supervisor at the time. He was ordered by magistrate Mrs Jayne Heathcote to pay a fine of 250, down from 375 for his early guilty plea, costs of 185, compensation to the NHS of 300 and a victim surcharge of 30, totalling 765. The theft took place between February 1 and March 5 this year when Rowlands was working in the security office. The unsecured safe contained money collected from parking passes given out to those working at the hospital. The court heard how CCTV installed in the security office was angled to cover the safe, but would only reveal the person s back. When Mr Rowlands colleagues realised money had not been accounted for, they installed an additional camera when he was on annual leave. This camera showed Mr Rowlands take 40 from the safe .

He was arrested and interviewed at Wolverhampton Central Police Station on March 13 where he admitted taking the money and he had stolen 300 in total from February. Ms Rachel Smith, prosecuting, said: It was confirmed there was 40 in the safe before Rowlands was seen on camera removing something from the safe . The 40 was not there when it was checked after his visit. Defending Rowlands, Mr Nayan Patel said: He admits he is suffering from post-traumatic-stress-disorder following his two tours of Iraq. Rowlands is currently suspended from work, where the court heard, he continues to earn 1,000 a month, though his contract is expected to be terminated following his appearance in court.