Alarmed British MPs demand passports be revoked from UK fighters in Syria
One in nine fighters returning from abroad have taken part in a terror plot, according to a UK parliamentary report, while the number of UK citizens travelling to fight in foreign conflicts reached “alarming levels unlike anything seen in recent years.”
The account, which was produced by the House of Commons’ Home Affairs Committee said “a one-in-nine radicalization rate would make foreign fighter experience one of the strongest predictors of individual involvement in domestic operations that we know.”
Syria has become the “theatre of choice for foreign fighters,” according to the report, due to its proximity to Europe and the ease of travel to its main cities. The conflict has seen unprecedented numbers of foreign fighters traveling to the country, with over 400 estimated to have travelled from the UK to fight against Syrian President, Bashar Assad.
Further research by the committee found that “plots with foreign fighters are more likely to reach fruition and twice as likely to have a lethal impact.” The report states that in the first fortnight of 2014, 14 people were arrested in relation to Syrian-linked activities. This was in comparison to the 24 people arrested over the course of the preceding year. A month later, on 16 February 2014, The Sunday Times reported that as many as 250 individuals who had fought in Syria had now returned to the UK.
To try and counter this UK politicians are demanding that those foreign fighters should have their passports revoked, which would not allow them to travel anymore. The group of politicians said in the report: “We require an immediate response targeted at dissuading and preventing those who wish to go to fight from going; helping countries who are key to intercepting those who are entering Syria, and ensuring those who return do not present a danger to the UK.”
The power to revoke a British passport has only been used 14 times since April 2013, which has amazed some politicians. Another method which can be used is revoking the citizenship of those British nationals who hold dual nationality. This can be undertaken by the home secretary if the person in question is “not conducive to the public good.” There are also plans to allow those who have become naturalized Britons and have given up the passport of the country of their birth to have their citizenship revoked, if they are seen as a danger to UK security.