An article in the Independent on June 22nd reported that “hundreds of veteran fighters from Syria and Iraq are already back in Britain, among them radicalized jihadists intent on mounting terror attacks”. In a speech last October, MI5 director-general Andrew Parker said: “A growing proportion of our casework now has some link to Syria, mostly concerning individuals from the UK who have traveled to fight there or who aspire to do so.” Even more troubling, according to the Financial Times “more than half of MI5’s anti-terror investigations involve Britons who have travelled to fight in Syria“.
While it’s well-known that the 7/7 London bombers trained in jihadist camps in Pakistan, and that the main suspect in the murder of Lee Rigby attempted to train with a group linked to al-Qaeda, the threat posted by radicalized European Islamists was illustrated more recently when it was reported that the terrorist who murdered four at the Brussels Jewish Museum spent over a year in Syria training with “jihadist terrorist groups”.
Nonetheless, despite such incidents, the threat which seems to keep Robert Fisk up at night is one of fairness – the question of whether British security agencies are equally keeping an eye on a potentially radicalized group of another religious tradition.
In a truly risible column at the Indy on July 28th titled “It’s not just radicalised Islamists – what about foreign fighters who flock to the IDF?”, Fisk writes the following:
Now I think it’s a good idea that the lads in blue are keeping their eyes open at Heathrow for British citizens who’ve been fighting in the Middle East. I hope they are doing a thorough job of it – and I mean thorough. I don’t want to bump into a chap who’s been firing missiles at Christian families in Syria. But on the other hand, I also don’t want to bump into a chap who’s been firing tank shells into the homes of Palestinians in Gaza.
it would be very interesting to know if the British government is taking as close an interest as it should in any UK citizens – even if they have any other passports – who have been fighting in Israeli uniform in Gaza in the past couple of weeks.
First, can Fisk cite even one example in the history of Israel of a foreign-born IDF soldier who returned to his former country (be it the UK, US, France, Australia or anywhere else) and committed an act of terrorism?
Moreover, while we don’t have inside information into the workings of that nation’s intelligence agencies, our humble guess is that citizens in the UK can relax, and be confident that there is no intel suggesting that ‘radicalized Zionists’ in neighborhoods like Hendon, Stamford Hill and Golders Green are even conceiving of (yet alone plotting) terror attacks on British soil.