At the moment, the number of militants, who returned to the UK from Iraq and Syria, exceeds 400 people, the Sky News TV-channel reported, citing its own unnamed security sources.
As the TV-channel noted, the authorities fear more and more that the UK can become a place of large-scale terrorist attacks, conducting with usage of firearms and explosive devices, similar to those that recently occurred in France and Belgium, as many returning militants have all the necessary training to use weapons and set up improvised explosive devices.
Citizens of more than 80 countries actively replenish the ranks of the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria and Iraq. About a hundred of Britons have already joined IS militants. Many of them entered the Syrian and Iraqi territories through Turkey. Ankara claims that for effective detention of such foreigners it needs more complete and timely information from Western intelligence agencies.
According to the TV-channel, only some of those, returning from the battlefields of Syria and Iraq, have been prosecuted, as the authorities “need enough evidence to put before the courts and often returning fighters go to great lengths to cover up their overseas activities.”
The issue of the radicalization of Britons began to be actively discussed in the UK, after three London schoolgirls moved to Syria through Turkey to join IS fighters in February 2015. A few days ago, a terrorist attack, which killed four people, was committed in London. That increased public attention to the topic of terrorism. However, Scotland Yard still has not found evidence of the connection of terrorist Khalid Masood with any terrorist organizations.
The TV-channel noted that the police and security services have already started to actively work “flat-out to counter the threat from homegrown lone-wolf extremists.” In addition, the UK government has allocated millions of pounds in extra funding to help Chief Constables across country to increase their firearms capability to respond to a terrorist attack.