Et absolutt mareritt

Sikkerhetssituasjonen knyttet til Syriakrigere ser ut til å være mer og mer ute av kontroll for britiske myndigheter. Man har ikke kapasitet til å følge opp hjemvendte krigere. Dessuten ser det ut til at flere av krigerne annonseres som falne i krigen gjennom sosiale medier for å unnslippe sikkerhetsradaren når de vender hjem. Samtidig befinner myndighetene seg i en skvis mellom hva som er akseptable virkemidler for å overvåke de tikkende bombene, privatlivets fred, og plikten til å sikre borgernes trygghet.

Som i Norge, er jihadister som får kamptrening i særlig land i Midtøsten, den største sikkerhetsrisikoen for Storbritannia.  De representerer en ”langvarig” terrortrussel  gjennom ”mange år” når de vender tilbake, heter det fra sikkerhetsmyndighetene.

Det anslås at så mange som 300 jihadister har vendt tilbake til de britiske øyene. Situasjonen beskrives som et ”absolutt mareritt” for sikkerhetsagenter, da de ikke har ressurser til å følge dem opp, skriver Soeren Kern.

Vi snakker altså ikke om enslige ulver med kapasitet til massedrap. Vi snakker om horder. Hvis man tenker seg 10 år frem i tid, og fortsatt rekruttering av nye krigere, vil myndigheter i europeiske land måtte sette inn militæret for å sikre det offentlige rommet?

On June 17, the Daily Mail reported that more British citizens signed up to fight in Iraq and Syria than joined the Army Reserve during the past 12 months. Only 170 extra reservists enlisted over the past year, despite a government target to boost the stand-by force by 11,000 by 2018.

On June 22, the Financial Times reported: «The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has halved its counter-terrorism budget even as officials warn of the most severe threat to the UK from overseas terror groups since the London bombings in 2005.»

On June 22, the Sunday Times reported that British jihadists are faking their deaths on the battlefield in Syria in an attempt to return to the UK undetected. In one instance, the martyrdom of a fighter in Syria was announced by his colleagues on social media, only for police to arrest the «dead» individual at the port town of Dover.

The Times also reported that a British jihadist using the nom de guerre Abu Rashash Britani recently posted a message on Twitter that said: «When we establish khilafah [an Islamic state], a battalion of mujahideen shud head to UK & capture David Cameron & Theresa May n behead them both :)»

Another jihadist from Birmingham named Junaid Hussain tweeted that the «black flag of jihad» will soon fly over Downing Street. He also tweeted: «Imagine if someone were to detonate a bomb at voting stations or ambushed the vans that carry the casted votes. It would mess the whole system up.» Hussain re-tweeted a warning from a like-minded countryman for British people to «watch out,» because «we’ll come back to the UK and wreak havoc.»

A 19-year-old jihadist from Portsmouth named Muhammad Hassan promised a «killing spree» of British citizens if he were ever to return to Britain.

In a June 22 interview with the Andrew Marr Show on BBC1, former British Defense Secretary Liam Fox said that given the increased threat to national security, the British state should be given more power to intercept the communications of Islamic extremists.

Home Secretary Theresa May, speaking at the annual Lord Mayor’s Defense and Security Lecture in London on June 24, called for a change to British law that would hand the security services more powers to scrutinize online communications, a bid that has previously been blocked by the Liberal Democrats due to privacy concerns.

May also defended the government’s use of surveillance powers. She said:

«There is no program of mass surveillance and there is no surveillance state. The real problem is not that we have built an over-mighty state but that the state is finding it harder to fulfil its most basic duty, which is to protect the public.»

May’s denial of the existence of a British «surveillance state» was contradicted by a senior official from her very own office.

A London-based group called Privacy International on June 17 published a 50-page document in which Charles Farr, the Director General of the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (a directorate within the Home Office which leads work on counter-terrorism in the UK), revealed a secret government policy justifying mass surveillance of UK residents.

In the document, Farr detailed how the Government Communications Headquarters [GCHQ], a British intelligence agency that works closely with the US National Security Agency, justifies the indiscriminate intercepting all online searches and electronic communications over Internet services such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Farr’s statement marked the first time the government has openly commented on how it exploits the UK’s existing legal framework for surveillance to intercept communications.

Meanwhile, the government said it was stepping up efforts to work with the Internet industry to remove Islamic extremist propaganda that is hosted in the UK or abroad. During a briefing on June 24, a government spokesperson said: «Since December [2013] we have removed over 15,000 pieces of terrorist-related content from the Internet.»

The move came after three British jihadists appeared in a recruitment video urging their fellow countrymen to fight for ISIS in Syria and Iraq. The 13-minute English-language video entitled «There Is No Life Without Jihad» features one jihadist from Scotland and two others from Wales describing the life and mission of a jihadist.

The imam of the South Wales Islamic Center, Sheikh Zane Abdo, said he feared that the video would encourage other British Muslims to travel to Syria to fight. The imam said:

«I guarantee that many young people who are very susceptible to this type of message will have watched that video and maybe have been encouraged to now go and follow in the footsteps of Nasser and his brother, which is a real problem.»

On June 24, the Daily Mail published a map showing how Cardiff, the capital of Wales, has become a hotbed for Islamic extremism. The article says Islamic hardliners are leafleting Muslim communities in the city with propaganda encouraging young men to become jihadists in Syria, Iraq and the UK.

Some of these meetings were allegedly organized by groups linked to Anjem Choudary, a Muslim hate preacher who wants to turn the United Kingdom into an Islamic state.

The Home Office said on June 26 that it was banning three groups linked to Choudary. The groups Need4Khilafah, the Shariah Project and the Islamic Dawah Association are all aliases of al-Muhajiroun, a Salafi-Wahhabi extremist group that was banned in 2006 but has continued to operate ever since then by using different names.

According to a report published by the Times of London on June 27, Choudary’s network «has now been proscribed as a terrorist organization operating under 11 different names, but neither he nor any one of his associates has so far been prosecuted for membership of an illegal group.»