‘Regretful’ Islamists want to leave Syria
A group of British Muslims who travelled to the Middle East to join Islamist fundamentalists said they want to come home but are afraid of being jailed.
According to this report, the men told Professor Peter Neumann of King’s College that they regret their decision after becoming frustrated that rival rebel groups are fighting among themselves, instead of targeting President Assad’s forces.
Prof Neumann said that one jihadist, claiming to represent 30 others, told researchers:
We came to fight the regime and instead we are involved in gang warfare. It’s not what we came for but if we go back [to Britain] we will go to jail.
Prof Neumann said the Government should set up a “deradicalisation programme” for those willing former jihadis, echoing calls by Labour leader Ed Miliband who last month suggested a mandatory programme of deradicalisation for those involved on the fringes with Islamic State (IS).
Prof Neumann, who works at the university’s International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence said:
The people we have been talking to … want to quit but feel trapped because all the Government is talking about is locking them up for 30 years.
The jihadist told the researchers that the men are “being forced to fight – what option do we have?”
Prof Neumann said he believed as many as a fifth of British fighters could be trying to find a way out of their current situation.
He added if the correct approach was taken towards less-hardened jihadists who wanted to come back, they could become important figures to show potential fighters that the reality of battle may not match the image presented by IS propaganda.
• The photo shows Mohammed el-Araj, left, and Abu Hujama al-Britani, right, both from London, who died fighting with al-Qaeda-linked rebels in Syria.