Hundreds of British Islamists Fighting in Syria

Spy Chief: Syria War Attracting al-Qaeda Sympathizers

In testimony to the British parliament today, MI5 chief Andrew Parker confirmed a growing number of “al-Qaeda sympathizers” from the United Kingdom have gone to Syria to fight alongside them.

Parker told the parliament that current estimates are that “low hundreds” of British Islamist fighters are currently on the ground in Syria, involved in nation nation’s civil war.

British officials have previously put the estimate much lower, in the dozens instead of hundreds. Parker warned that the contracts being made by the fighters overseas could be a long-term threat.

That’s because after the Syrian Civil War ends, or simply ceases to be the “fashionable” war among Islamists, such fighters will return home with British citizenship and British passports, and ties with some of al-Qaeda’s top regional leaders.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.