News / Middle East

    Surge in Syria Jihadist Arrests Prompts Security Fears in Europe

    Surge In Syria Jihadist Arrests Prompts Security Fears in Europei
    X
    February 25, 2014 4:10 AM
    There’s been a surge in the number of arrests of British citizens accused of returning from the battlefields of Syria to take part in jihad or holy war. British authorities fear the increasing numbers pose a domestic security threat. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
    Surge In Syria Jihadist Arrests Prompts Security Fears in Europe
    Henry Ridgwell
    There’s been a surge in the number of arrests of British citizens accused of returning from the battlefields of Syria to take part in jihad, or holy war. British authorities fear the increasing numbers pose a domestic security threat. The threat is being taken seriously across the continent, with thousands of Europeans thought to be fighting in Syria.
     
    Among the many thousands of amateur videos that have emerged from the Syrian conflict, one has stirred growing concerns among British security services.
     
    It purports to show British citizen Abdul Waheed Majeed outside Aleppo, Syria earlier this month. He is surrounded by fighters from the Islamist rebel group Al Nusra Front - affiliated with al-Qaida.
     
    When asked questions by Arabic-speaking fellow rebels, Majeed responds in a clear British accent.
     
    "I can't speak. Everyone asks me. I'm not a very good speaker. My tongue got like a knot in it. I can't speak. It should come from the heart. I can't do it," said Majeed.
     
    Majeed is then seen driving an armor-plated truck packed with explosives up to the walls of Aleppo prison.
     
    Majeed and scores of others are killed; Syrian rebels reported that several prisoners escaped.
     
    “The suicide bombing suggests a level of zealotry that is quite unprecedented. They are fighters, and they are on the ground to do two things: one is to remove Assad, but also to achieve martyrdom,” said Shiraz Maher, from the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at Kings College London.
     
    Maher estimates there are between 200 and 366 British citizens fighting in Syria - more than went out to fight Jihad in Iraq or Afghanistan.
     
    “Given the narrative of the Western world that our own governments regard Assad as a tyrant and someone who should be removed from power, it isn’t so morally ambiguous,” said Maher.
     
    The British government is cracking down. In January alone, 16 Britons were arrested on their return home, suspected of taking part in the fighting or of attempting to travel there. For the whole of 2013, there were 24 arrests.
     
    Past experience suggests the British jihadists pose twin security risks, said Rafaello Pantucci of the Royal United Services Institute.
     
    “In Afghanistan and Pakistan, where we saw young Britons who were drawn out there to fight in some of the Jihad conflicts, ended up being directed by al-Qaida core to come back and launch attacks in the UK. In other examples like in Iraq, that young Britons were drawn out there, some of whom came back… and decided that it was their duty to try to do something in the United Kingdom,” said Pantucci.
     
    The problem isn’t confined to Britain. Another suicide attack in December was reported to have been carried out by Nicholas Bons, a French jihadist fighting with the group the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.
     
    It’s estimated that up to 700 French citizens have travelled to Syria. French anti-terror judge Marc Trevidic said there needs to be more engagement with Muslim communities at home.
     
    “So far, we have only relied on anti-terrorist justice, this means on crackdown only, and that's a failure,” said Trevidic.
     
    Anti-terror experts say social media allows would-be foreign jihadists to watch the Syrian conflict unfold in real time - and easily connect with fighters on the ground to plan their journey.

    You May Like

    US Internet Giants, EU Reach Deal to Combat Online Hate Speech

    Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft commit to ‘quickly and efficiently’ act to clamp down on use of social media to incite violence, terror

    Tunisia’s Ennahda Party Begins a New Political Chapter

    Party now moves to separate its political and religious activities; change described by party members as pragmatic response to political and economic challenges facing Tunisia today

    Virtual Reality Fine-tuned at Asia Tech Show

    Microchip designers hope to improve resolution for users of systems that can turn your bedroom into the ocean floor

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conferencei
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    May 30, 2016 5:11 PM
    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora