Americans were made acutely aware of the threat posed by Western jihadist fighters joining the ranks of ISIS in Syria and Iraq when a man with a London accent beheaded James Wright Foley as part of a taped ultimatum to President Barack Obama.
Inexplicably, President Barack Obama chose not to even abstractly address the nature of that threat, even though he plans to personally chair a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on precisely this subject next month.
A July intelligence estimate suggested that up to 3,000 ISIS militants were of European origin and 1,500 of those are young British Muslims, according to Birmingham MP Perry Barr. Framing the problem of Europe’s failure to assimilate its Muslim minorities perfectly, a new report indicates that there are more British Muslims fighting with Islamist militants in the Middle East than there are in the British armed forces.
According to the Ministry of Defense, there are only around 600 British Muslims currently serving in the Armed Forces, making up approximately around 0.4% of total personnel. 4.3% of the British population are Muslim.
The UK Foreign Office said that they believe over 400 individuals have travelled to Syria since the uprising began, but said that they could not give exact numbers.
However Mahmood described such low estimates as “nonsense” and said that the British government was failing to deal with the problem of home-grown extremists. “We’ve not concentrated on the prevention work, we haven’t invested enough in de-radicalisation. It’s tragic, somebody’s got to wake up to it.”
It is not an unfounded concern.
In August, 2013, two homegrown disaffected British Muslim men took to the streets of London where they beheaded a U.K. solider.
“We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you,” said Michael Adebolajo, a British citizen of Nigerian origin, with a thick East London accent after attacking the solider.
While the threat of homegrown terror may be diminished for now as the most critical front appears to be in Syria and Iraq, Western governments are smart to prepare for the worst. If ISIS cannot be stopped in the Middle East, the worst is almost certainly on its way.