British police say they now estimate around 700 British citizens are fighting with Islamist rebel factions in Syria, one of the largest outflows among European nations to the warzone.
The concern is that the fighters will cultivate ties with al-Qaeda leaders and will return to Britain after the war with orders to launch attacks across Europe and North America, with the British passport to get access virtually anywhere.
Police are pressuring British Muslim parents to talk their children out of going to fight, and failing that to inform on them to the government. At the same time, they concede they can’t actually do anything to stop Britons from leaving if they really want to go to Syria.
The strategy rather seems to be to collect the names of those so inclined and arrest them once they return for fighting with terrorist organizations. Police say they have arrested 40 people of “Syria-related” charges so far this year.