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Britain faces threat from Syria returnees: Minister

AFP , Sunday 16 Feb 2014
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British immigration minister James Brokenshire said on Sunday the country faces a major security concern from people who fought in Syria and have since returned to Britain.

The minister told the BBC that Britain's security services were "vigilant" about those travelling between Britain and Syria, adding the issue was a "big problem".

The comments came after the Sunday Times reported that security services were "closely monitoring" 250 British-based jihadis who trained and fought in Syria and have since returned home.

The paper cited senior security officials as saying that the high number of so-called returnees highlighted the serious danger posed by "extremist tourists" in Syria.

"I think the security concern linked to Syria is likely to be with us for the forseeable future," Brokenshire said on Sunday.

"A significant proportion and a growing proportion of the security service's work is linked to Syria in some way.

"This is a big problem that the security services and the police are actively faced on.

"It is why they are vigilant, why they are taking the steps that they are around the border on monitoring travel to and from Syria, in the way that they are, rightly, in guarding our national security and ensuring that where individuals are identified as having been involved in terrorism or terrorism-related activity, they are rightly brought to justice."

European countries face a growing number of young people going to fight in Syria, where a civil war is raging involving President Bashar al-Assad's forces, rebels and Islamist fighters.

Last week, British police searched a home in the southeastern town of Crawley as part of an investigation into reports that a man named as 41-year-old Abdul Waheed Majid was responsible for a suicide attack in Syria.

He reportedly carried out a suicide truck bombing on February 6 as part of an attack by rebel fighters on the jail in the divided northern city of Aleppo where rebels are being held.

Late on Friday, a video was published online which reportedly showed the alleged suicide bomber standing next to the customised suicide truck, according to British media.

 

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