At least 400 Britons are among the estimated 2,000 Europeans who are fighting for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), according to Prime Minister David Cameron. And the ease with which Europeans can travel into Syria through Turkey has alarmed intelligence officials in the West. …..
The true number of British jihadis could be even higher. Khalid Mahmood, a U.K. parliament lawmaker from Birmingham, England, estimates that at least 1,500 Brits have been recruited by extremists fighting in Iraq and Syria over the last three years–more than double the number of Muslims currently serving in the U.K. military. NBCNews
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Some commentators argue that this tolerance has left Britain more exposed to the threat posed to its Muslim communities by radical Islam.
“In the U.K., with our proud tradition of freedom and not wanting to get involved in religious disputes, we have been bending over backwards to regard murderous ideologies as expressions of free speech,” said Anthony Glees, director of the University of Buckingham’s Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies. “Islamist extremist ideologies have spread with relative ease under the cover of ‘free speech’ and ‘multiculturalism’.”
Glees added that Britain’s predominantly Sunni Muslim population was also particularly vulnerable to the allure of the jihadi message from Sunni ISIS.
“Across Europe, Muslim populations come from different parts of the Islamic world. British Muslims come primarily from Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Horn of Africa — in other words, places where the political culture is virulent,” he said. “I think it is a particular problem in the U.K. in as much as most of our Muslims are from Sunni background. It is not that that you are more likely to be a violent extremist if you’re from a Sunni background but it is much easier to call yourself a preacher. There is no hierarchy in the Sunni religion. Anyone can say they’re a preacher, and this gives them an opening into mosques, the college lecture circuit and other places where young people congregate.” NBCNews