Top British police officials say that the Syrian rebels, with their various Islamist factions, pose a “grave” threat to national security, on par with the threat posed by al-Qaeda, and potentially even more difficult to deal with owing to their newness and official unfamiliarity with the leadership structure.
This view of the Syrian jihadists as a “threat” is a different perspective, with Britain’s political leadership loudly endorsing the groups and calling on the European Union to back off their ban so British officials can start arming them.
And of course beyond the British government’s endorsement of the rebels, British jihadists have been flocking to Syria to fight for the rebels. That’s the big problem for British security officials, since those fighters are going to come back trained and radicalized, and potentially with British-provided weaponry.
This reflects the disconnect between the British government’s foreign policy, which welcomes Islamist fighters using bombings and terrorist attacks to turn a nation into an “emirate” under religious law, with a domestic policy that is uncomfortable with the idea of those same fighters using those same tactics in Britain. Unfortunately for the Cameron government, the reason Syria is okay to fight jihad in and Britain isn’t will likely be lost on those fighters.
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