“In an exclusive interview with the Standard, the head of the Met’s counter-terrorism unit Commander Richard Walton disclosed their detention as he warned of the growing threat to national security posed by the number of young Britons becoming radicalised by the Syrian turmoil.
He said the numbers of Syria-related terror arrests were soaring in response, with 14 already in the first three weeks of this year — more than half the total of 24 for the whole of 2013. His alert came as two other London women became the first females to be charged over the conflict.
Commander Walton called the figures “stark” and said it was shocking to see “boys and girls enticed” to join jihadis fighting in Syria. He felt it was “almost inevitable” some fighters would try to mount attacks in the UK on their return.“
Related: Foreign fighters’ ‘family jihad’ erodes Syria’s social fabric: analysts
Recent media reports have revealed instances of foreign fighters traveling to Syria with their families in tow for the purpose of engaging in “jihad”, experts told Al-Shorfa.
Reports and videos have emerged of the migration of said families to Syria and the emergence of so-called “family jihad”, they said, adding that the phenomenon constitutes a “serious threat” to the country’s future.
“The recruitment of fighters under the banner of ‘jihad’ to fight in the ranks of al-Qaeda in hot spots in the Middle East has become a systematic method employed by this terrorist organisation to give its sympathisers the illusion it is capable of recruiting fighters from all around the world,” said retired Maj. Gen. Wael Abdul Muttalib, a researcher with the Cairo-based Regional Centre for Strategic Studies who specialises in the affairs of terrorist organisations in Asia.