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Thread: Foreign Fighters: preventative action (UK mainly)

  1. #21
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    A short comprehensive review, the title says it all 'British Jihadis in Iraq and Syria: How should we deal with them when they come home?', in The Independent (UK) newspaper:http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk...e-9771290.html

    The sub-title explains more 'While there is broad consensus that those who pose a threat to national security should be dealt with, many experts argue that not all of the Britons in Syria and Iraq are trained fighters and terrorists'.

    Here is one passage on the dilemma for the state:
    Worryingly, the government strategy for dealing with returnees appears generalised, untargeted, fragmented and draconian. ...But it is feared that such measures will serve only to send the more moderate returnees, who might otherwise become assets for intelligence services, underground.
    For reasons lost on me the UK's 'Prevent' strategy and the cited Channel Project are often praised by officialdom and those abroad. Sadly it has very little credibility where it matters, which is not inside government, but amongst those who need help - not exclusively Muslims either.
    davidbfpo

  2. #22
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Coming home: nuance needed

    Rachel Briggs, who has long been thinking on the 'Prevent' issues, has a blog comment 'We need a more nuanced approach for dealing with british jihadists who want to come home':http://rachelbriggs.wordpress.com/20...-to-come-home/

    She starts with:
    There are growing reports that British jihadis fighting in Syria want to come home; it has been claimed that dozens are trapped in Syria unable to leave, and up to 100 are stranded in Turkey having made it out of Syria, but worried or unable to come back to the UK.
    davidbfpo

  3. #23
    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    David,

    In your estimation, how much of this is the direct appeal of jihad or Islamism, and how much of it is the appeal of adventure, etc for young men? The 20th century alone is replete with young men joining foreign causes (IDF, French Foreign Legion, Spanish Civil War, South Africa, Nazi SS, etc). It seems to me like there are many who went abroad looking for that kind of experience, only to become disillusioned either with war, ISIS, or some combination in between. What are your thoughts?
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

  4. #24
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Jihad or Adventure?

    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
    David,

    In your estimation, how much of this is the direct appeal of jihad or Islamism, and how much of it is the appeal of adventure, etc for young men? The 20th century alone is replete with young men joining foreign causes (IDF, French Foreign Legion, Spanish Civil War, South Africa, Nazi SS, etc). It seems to me like there are many who went abroad looking for that kind of experience, only to become disillusioned either with war, ISIS, or some combination in between. What are your thoughts?
    I can only give an estimate about the UK.

    It is important to note initially the main emphasis was going to fight in Syria, not Iraq; nor until relatively recently was ISIS the main destination.

    Each case is likely to be different, whether it is an individual decision or a small group.

    During the Syrian Civil War helping those under attack by the regime was the reason, allied with the apparently steady advance of jihadist groups who stressed jihad and then the pursuit of an AK47 adventure. Once it became apparent this was a horrible civil war, where fighting each other was more likely than fighting the regime, becoming a jihadist came to the fore.

    My estimate is that with the public arrival of ISIS there has been a change as the "message" about the battlefield(s) in The Levant being the final battleground emerged. I have doubts that this message even featured before, very few Muslims appear to have acknowledged this factor.

    One snag is that to date very few, if any, veterans from Syria have actually talked publicly - when hopefully their disillusionment would be to the fore. It is interesting that some groups and older veterans have advised against going.
    davidbfpo

  5. #25
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Jihad or Adventure? CTC has some answers

    In the last CTC Newsltter is a short article, it is slightly strange being based on survey research in Syria:
    Over the past year, the authors have surveyed more than 300 FSA fighters as well as Syrian civilians and refugees and 50 Syrian Islamist fighters in the Islamic Front (Ahrar al-Sham) and JN, the latter of which is al-Qa`ida’s affiliate in Syria.
    They conclude (cited in part):
    At present, the authors’ research suggests that rebel fighters are generally revenge-seeking and driven to Islamist groups not primarily due to ideological motivations, but rather for instrumental reasons. However, once inside the group, they are vulnerable to elite manipulation. ....Islamist groups appear to be having great success harnessing and exploiting Syrian anger for purposes well beyond fighting the al-Assad regime, which is why the current drive in Islamist recruitment in Syria could have important spillover consequences for conflict elsewhere.
    Link:https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/the-m...amist-fighters
    davidbfpo

  6. #26
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default What can we learn from jihadists talking?

    A lengthy New Statesman article by ICSR's Shiraz Maher:
    From Portsmouth to Kobane: the British jihadis fighting for Isis

    (Sub-title) What motivates the young men who leave Britain to join the murderous fanatics of Isis in the Middle East? Shiraz Maher spoke to dozens of them inside Syria to find out.
    Link:http://www.newstatesman.com/2014/10/portsmouth-kobane

    The stories of the Portsmouth and Manchester boys offer a remarkable insight into the world of foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq. They also reveal the deep chasms within British society. Second- and third-generation immigrants of Muslim Asian origin continue to feel a profound detachment not just from the country in which they were born and educated but from their own families and communities, too. Many of their local leaders are too old to counter the charisma of millenarian propaganda and their experiences are too remote from those of their congregants.

    Their stories remind us how powerful social media can be.
    davidbfpo

  7. #27
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Powers to stop British jihadists returning to UK - PM

    Not exactly a surprising announcement by PM David Cameron:
    British jihadists who travel abroad to fight could be prevented from returning under new powers outlined by the PM...the special exclusion orders - which could last for two years or more - would bar suspected fighters from entering the UK unless they agreed to strict controls.
    Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-30041923 and http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-30048278

    Just why this statement had to be made in Australia eludes me.

    Nothing is said about state actions before aspiring fighters leave the UK, as the Quilliam Foundation note:
    Furthermore, if implemented, it presents only a short-term solution to what is a long-term problem. Legislation should encourage citizens to return and face due process rather than force them to stay in a crisis zone and further radicalize either themselves or others in the UK through their online activities.
    Link:http://www.quilliamfoundation.org/pr...nberra-speech/

    Nor I would add nothing about those fighters who have already returned and presumably are unknown to the state.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 11-14-2014 at 02:29 PM.
    davidbfpo

  8. #28
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default A Better Response to the Foreign Fighter Threat

    From Lawfare a short piece by Daniel Byman & Jeremy Shapiro, which address whether jailing returning fighters is good public policy:http://www.lawfareblog.com/2014/11/t...nd-back-again/
    davidbfpo

  9. #29
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Police betrayed me,’ says mother of imprisoned British jihadi

    The headline this week in The Guardian, after a terrorism trial where two young men from Birmingham pleaded guilty - anticipating a minimal two years sentence - and got twelve years:http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...P=share_btn_tw

    One family had reported their son's departure for Syria, to the police and to say the least she is unhappy:
    This is not justice. They said I was doing the right thing, that when my son came back they would try to help, but this terrible sentence – all they have done was to set me against my son.

    The police say ‘mothers come forward’, you can trust us, we will help. But now they will see what happened to my son. What kind of person would go to the police if they think their son will get 12 years in prison? Nobody wants to do that. I did not want that.

    He told me many times he wanted to come home....I wanted to go to Turkey, to go to the border and find him, bring him back. The British Foreign Office and the police said ‘you must not go’ but they then did nothing to get him home. They did nothing. My son is not a terrorist, he didn’t make bombs, he didn’t kill anyone, he tried to help. He did a stupid thing and when he realised this he wanted to come home.
    The regional police CT leader:
    This case typifies the challenges both police and families are facing when it comes to young people being influenced to join the conflict in Syria or Iraq.

    These two men had no previous connections to extremist organisations and no police record. They were not known to us.....However, one of them was clearly being influenced by extremists he was talking to online, and he in turn was radicalising his friend. We had no choice but to arrest and charge the pair on their return.
    An appeal has been lodged.

    I expect the jihadists will be cheering this decision, it will reinforce the reluctance of families to volunteer information on their children being radicalised and travelling to Syria / Iraq.

    A short, local BBC report also says this, plus the critical mother talking:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-30370272
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-07-2014 at 09:47 PM. Reason: Add 2nd link
    davidbfpo

  10. #30
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default A fascinating ninety-six minutes

    An event yesterday @ The Frontline Club, London on the "wicked problem" 'The Fate of Foreign Fighters Returning from Syria and Iraq' with a panel with Shiraz Maher (Kings College's ICSR), Richard Barrett (now with the Soufanb Group, ex-SIS & UN) and Moazzam Begg (ex-GBay detainee):http://www.frontlineclub.com/the-fat...yria-and-iraq/

    Recommended listening, it is hard at times.
    davidbfpo

  11. #31
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Returned fighter: DIY

    Sadly a story that is not unexpected, despite all the statements of intent from ministers and others - from the BBC:
    The mother of a former jihadist has warned that unless more provisions are put in place to rehabilitate people returning from Syria, the UK risks a future of terror attacks. The woman, known only as "Linda" and from London, travelled to the Syrian borders last year to bring back her radicalised son. She said she has received no support to help reintegrate him back into society.
    The Home Office said it did not comment on individual cases.
    But the 45-year-old mother told Inside Out London: "The government are aware that he went. Everyone has been informed and nobody's been forthcoming with any kind of offer of support.I went to various places to try and get him help but they've just said, 'you know, there's nothing we can do'."
    Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-30854621
    davidbfpo

  12. #32
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default We were defending British values, say Syria Britons

    A C4 report based on two British citizens who went to Syria and have returned. There are is a film clip using two interviews, with some footage on the conflict and a less valuable studio session with experts:http://www.channel4.com/news/syria-b...-sham-fighters

    One expert, Lord West, a former security minister, rightly points out there are two waves of those going to Syria; before Daesh and after Daesh. The hundreds (up to 250) who have returned I'd expect them to be overwhelmingly before Daesh.
    davidbfpo

  13. #33
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default We are at the edge of a cliff

    The title is taken from the commentary by the chair of the House of Commons Home Affairs select Committee (HASC), which today published its report 'Counter-terrorism: foreign fighters':http://www.publications.parliament.u.../933/93302.htm

    Even WHAM gets a mention:
    The number of cases being brought to public attention should ring alarm bells...This must be a relentless battle for hearts and minds, and without a strong counter-narrative we are in danger of failing to prevent even more departures. We are at the edge of a cliff.
    Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-32059813

    The BBC has prepared a database of 160 known UK residents / citizens who have gone and in brief concludes:
    The BBC has been tracking the stories of the men, women, boys and girls who have gone to Syria and Iraq to understand why they go, where they go from and what happens to them. By analysing around 160 profiles, it reveals the way in which people have travelled in clusters - a group of three young friends from Coventry, another group from Portsmouth, drawn out by one person they knew, others in Cardiff linked to people involved in an extremist organisation.
    Social media might play a part but face-to-face contact appears just as, if not more, important, according to the database.
    Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-32026985


    Their research found of the 160, 36 have died fighting; 13 have been convicted in the UK. Note most open source research, usually reliant on Kings College's ICSR refer to 600 having gone and IIRC 300 have returned.


    Personally I do not consider the Uk is 'at the edge of a cliff', although the message that attracts them is undiminished and if remarks at IISS this week are an indicator still little understood. The numbers known to have gone remain small, for example Birmingham has one known fighter (from BBC data), although anecdote suggests at least another three went last year unknown to the authorities.


    I just wonder what the 300 who reported have returned are thinking. Have we "won" their heards & minds?
    davidbfpo

  14. #34
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default I didn’t think my presence in Syria would be able to help anyone

    At last an interview with two UK citizens who went to fight the Assad regime in Syria, not joining ISIS or al-Nusra and who have retiurned:http://www.buzzfeed.com/husseinkesva...reign-fighters

    Here is one quote:
    ...vulnerable young people, especially those who aren’t really practising [Islam], will be attracted to them. The hype about fighting Assad is over, and larger groups like ISIS will have an appeal to these guys – they are in a vulnerable state, and they’re like a sponge, they’ll believe anything.
    Another, with my emphasis:
    You have all these groups talking about why young people are becoming radicalised and joining groups like ISIS, and there’s no one who can really tell them why what they’re doing is wrong. The groups who are currently talking about deradicalisation have no credibility – you need someone with on the ground experience of the conflict, and people who also believe in the idea of proper jihad … so that you can tell young people what they’re doing isn’t Islamically authentic.
    davidbfpo

  15. #35
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default "Out of the box" thinking

    Britain should lay on charter flights to take wannabe British jihadists to Syria so they don’t fester here, a former counter-terrorism police chief has suggested.

    You have to think how do you confront it, if you have hundreds or thousands who want to go there and live that life? We should try and convince them not to go. If they want to go, you have to ask the question, are we better off, if they surrender their passports and go? It’s better than them festering away here. “Should we say we’ll lay on charter flights to Syria; turn up with your passport and if you are over 18, if this is the life you want, then go".
    Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...ror-chief.html
    davidbfpo

  16. #36
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Former jihadis are the key to defeating Isil

    A short comment by Richard Barrett, ex-SIS (MI6), who argues we have so far refused to consider this option:
    n the wake of Paris, it has become all the more important to determine which returnees present a risk and which do not. This is not only so that authorities can focus scarce resources where they are most needed. It also allows us to identify and seek the help of those that do not present a risk. Many argue that anyone who went to Syria deserves no understanding or mercy on their return; but some of them know that they have made a mistake. They will help us cut the flow of fighters to Syria by helping us understand why they go, why they stay and why they come back. It is these same people who can be more powerful influences than any other on those who may be inclined to join or act on behalf of Isil. Often they have tried it and seen it does not work. They have the credibility and understanding that the rest of us lack. They hold the key to victory.
    Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...ting-Isil.html
    davidbfpo

  17. #37
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Who did those going to fight join?

    Yesterday I had the chance to ask a SME on the flow of foriegn fighters from the UK to Syria and whcih faction they joined:
    Of the estimated 800 who have gone out to fight, half went to the non-jihadist groups in the early stages and after the taking of Mosul everyone has gone to join ISIS.
    Most UK estimates are that 300 have returned, with a substantial number not being detected by the authorities.

    Personally I doubt if any have escaped from ISIS. I would expect expressing doubts would be seen as a threat and they would be killed.
    davidbfpo

  18. #38
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default The Returnees

    A short BBC radio programme (38 mins) by Gordon Corera, in part explained as:
    Gordon Corera explores the British government's response to managing returnees. In the last two years Britain has brought in temporary exclusion orders and is able to confiscate passports to prevent people preparing to travel to Syria.
    Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0742hlf
    davidbfpo

  19. #39
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    Default He was normal, but went to Syria to fight

    A short video (12 mins) about five boys - three of them brothers - who left Brighton (UK) to Syria:
    Mark Townsend asks why....... to join an al-Qaida affiliated group. What clues were missed? What was it about them that should have alerted the authorities to their potential radicalisation?
    Link:http://www.theguardian.com/world/vid...to-syria-video

    There is a longer written "long read". On a first glance I do wonder if this is actually true:
    Their journey from the south coast to Syria cannot be reduced to a single factor, but it involves racist abuse, allegations of police neglect, and the collective failure of numerous authorities – both those charged with protecting vulnerable young people, and those charged with preventing radicalisation.
    Link:http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2...to-jihad-syria

    What about the factors that persuaded them to go? Brighton can in places be wealthy and has a strong gay community - which may be a factor, not mentioned in the article.
    davidbfpo

  20. #40
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    Default No country can kill its way out of the problem

    Catching up on my reading I found this early December 2017 article by Shashank Joshi (ex-RUSI), written after the brand new Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson call the day before:
    A dead terrorist can’t cause any harm to Britain....I do not believe that any terrorist, whether they come from this country or any other, should ever be allowed back into this country. We should do everything we can do to destroy and eliminate that threat.
    Link to Joshi's article:https://www.theguardian.com/commenti...ary-not-simple

    Link to the report on the Defence Secretary comments:https://www.theguardian.com/politics...vin-williamson

    The big snag for the UK is that IIRC four hundred suspected fighters have returned already; a figure officials now cite. Only a fraction have been arrested and prosecuted.
    davidbfpo

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