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UK Warns British Muslims Against Joining Taleban

Britain has warned young British Muslims they could face death in Afghanistan or legal problems at home if they go to join the Taleban.

British Defense Secretary Geoffrey Hoon has delivered a blunt warning to young British Muslims who might want to fight in Afghanistan against the U.S.-led anti-terrorism campaign. "I hope that anyone who is contemplating going to Afghanistan does think very carefully about the consequences, both to them and their families, in terms of the grief that they might suffer as well as contemplates the legal action that might follow on their return, if they were to return," he said.

The issue has arisen amid British media reports that at least three young Muslims from Britain have been killed in U.S. bombing raids on Kabul.

The reports are based on information from al-Muhajiroun, an Islamic group that says it has recruited young Britons to go fight alongside the ruling Taleban in Afghanistan.

A spokesman for al-Muhajiroun, Abu Ayef, told British television why his group is sending young Muslims to Afghanistan. "For us as Muslims, our identity is based upon a creed," he said. "That means that if you attack the people in Afghanistan, you are attacking me in the UK. I am not a British Muslim. I am a Muslim living in the UK."

Britain is home to about two million Muslims, most of them from South Asia. In recent weeks, some Muslim families have told stories of their young men ending up in Afghanistan after telling their parents they were going to Pakistan to visit relatives.

British officials say they are aware of the situation, but no figures are available on how many British youths may have gone to try to join the Taleban.