News / Middle East

Britons Among Foreign Jihadists Fighting in Syria

Britons Among Foreign Jihadists Fighting in Syriai
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 26, 2012 7:31 PM
Despite Syrian rebels’ insistence to the contrary, there is evidence to support Syrian government contentions that more foreign fighters are heading to Syria to fight a "Holy War" against the forces of President Bashar al-Assad. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to one photographer who said he was captured by jihadist fighters.
Britons Among Foreign Jihadists Fighting in Syria
Henry Ridgwell
BIRMINGHAM, Britain — Despite Syrian rebels’ insistence to the contrary, there is evidence to support Syrian government contentions that more foreign fighters are heading to Syria to fight a "holy war" against the forces of President Bashar al-Assad.

British photojournalist John Cantlie was crossing into Syria from Turkey with a guide and Dutch colleague two months ago when he was captured by jihadist fighters - some of them were fellow Britons.

According to Cantlie, they had stumbled across a camp full of armed opposition fighters. But they were not the Free Syrian Army. Cantlie realized he had found a training camp for "jihadist" foreign fighters.

“I knew within 10 seconds that we were in trouble," he said. "Within a minute… they were all speaking English, first of all. They were Chechen, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, British... I’d estimate between 10 to 15 of them were either British or of British origin… We talked with them a great deal, especially the British guys. One of them, an NHS [British National Health Service] doctor, kind of became our friend, he gave us intel [intelligence],” said Cantlie.

The group held the three men captive. Many of the British jihadists had distinct accents suggesting they were from the city of Birmingham, Cantlie said.

The city of a million people in central Britain has a large Muslim population. Among them - Syrian journalist Malik al-Abdeh, who confirmed John Cantlie’s account.

“I’m aware of around just under 10 young men from the Birmingham area going to Syria to fight with the Free Syrian Army, he said. "They are drawn to Syria out of partly humanitarian reasons, to help out their fellow brothers in Islam who are being killed and victimized in Syria, but also because they genuinely have a jihadist zeal. Before it was Afghanistan, it was Chechnya, Bosnia, and so on, so Syria is just one in a sort of tour of campaigns against those who are oppressing Muslims.”

The jihadists are not always welcomed by the Free Syrian Army, Abdeh added.

“They are wary of what they call the ‘Takfiri’ trend within the jihadist movement. The more extreme elements that don’t view the struggle in Syria as a struggle for democracy and freedom, but rather as a struggle to bring about an Islamic state.”

The Member of Parliament for Birmingham has raised concerns with the government about British nationals going to fight in Syria, warning that they could return as extremists.

Cantlie assumed he would be ransomed and likely killed. They tried to escape, but were shot and recaptured. Cantlie has the real Free Syrian Army to thank for his freedom.

“A week later, because our guide had raised the alarm, the Free Syrian Army - four of them - came in when the camp was very empty and rescued us,” he said.

Cantlie is planning to return to Syria to document the conflict.

He and other witnesses say Britons and other foreigners are heading there to fight 'jihad’ - coming from the streets of cities like Birmingham to the battlefields of Syria to join an increasingly complex opposition force.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid