- Estimated that 400 home-grown jihadis have returned after fighting in Syria
- Out of the people who have come home, only 54 of them have been prosecuted
- Terrorism expert said the attack shows the damage a lone attacker can inflict
The Government last night faced new demands to crack down on jihadis returning from Syria in the wake of the Westminster attack.
Although there is no suggestion that British-born Muslim convert Khalid Masood travelled to Syria to fight for Islamic State, thousands of home-grown jihadis have – and an estimated 400 have returned to UK.
With IS rapidly losing ground in Syria and Iraq, the number of British returnees is likely to swell further, raising the question of what should be done about them.
An estimated 400 jihadis have returned to the UK after travelling to Syria to fight for Islamic State. Pictured, extremist Abu Rayah was twice allowed to leave the UK for Europe
Of the 400 who have come back, figures released last year showed only 54 individuals had been prosecuted. A further 30 faced charges.
A Mail on Sunday investigation discovered a number of returned jihadis roaming free on the streets of Britain.
One solution is wider use of Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPIMs), which involve electronic tagging and can include restrictions on movement, financial activity and communication.
Currently, there are only seven in operation.
Terrorism expert Professor Anthony Glees said last week’s attack demonstrated all too clearly the scale of threat which a lone man can pose, let alone hundreds.
Prof Glees, director of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies at the University of Buckingham, said: ‘These people need to be taken seriously.
While internment wouldn’t be acceptable, we need to use more TPIMs.’
Of the estimated 400 who have returned, only 54 individuals have been prosecuted and a further 30 face charges. Pictured left, Gianluca Tomaselli, 27, joined an IS sub-group but by 2016 was working as a car park attendant in east London. Pictured right, Maarg Kahsay was never charged for going to Syria
Among the cases, The Mail on Sunday has highlighted:
- Maarg Kahsay, from North London, spent months in Syria in 2014, after having fled a rape trial while on bail. He returned and was acquitted of the rape charge, but has never been charged with going to Syria. His name was on IS files obtained by the MoS.
- Gianluca Tomaselli, 27, joined an IS sub-group called Rayat Al Tawhid, led by British jihadis in Syria. He fled there in 2013, and returned two years later. By 2016, he wasfound to be working as a car park attendant at Whipps Cross Hospital in East London.
- Waheed Ahmed, 22, a Labour councillor’s son, was arrested with nine family members in Turkey, heading for Syria. The family returned and no one was charged.
- Abu Rayah, 35, from East London, led a poppy burning stunt during an Armistice Day event in 2010. He was known to MI5 as an extremist, but went to Syria to fight alongside IS.
- After he returned from Syria, he was allowed to leave the UK twice and go to Europe.