UK terror warning: Taliban victory in Afghanistan could inspire home-grown terrorists
RAF officer: Islamic State still poses threat to the UK
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They’ve warned the collapse of the current western-backed government in Kabul could spur extremists – many of whom are radicalised online – to commit acts of terror in countries including the UK. The defeat of the Islamic State in Syria left jihadists struggling to find a “victory narrative” that is attractive to those seeking to travel abroad or launch attacks from the UK, they said.
But should Afghanistan end up with a Taliban government “of some sort” that would hand a boost to western-based extremists, services such as the MI5 have warned.
This could either result in them waging terror at home or travelling overseas to exploit a vacuum that could emerge in the country as the Taliban gains ground.
Ken McCallum, the director-general of MI5, said it was “likely” that UK-based groups could try to exploit the situation in Afghanistan to radicalise others.
He told the Sunday Times: “It must surely be likely that extremist groups of various sorts, including UK-based groupings who have no meaningful connection themselves to Afghanistan, will seek to portray this to potential people they are trying to recruit or radicalise, as a victory for extremist Islam.
“That’s not me saying that that is the case, but extremists will seek to take propaganda advantage from the situation in Afghanistan.”
He warned that the “inspired” effect is “at least as much of a challenge” as the “directed” threat from terrorist commanders commissioning and instructing individuals.
A total of 454 British forces personnel or MOD civilians died while serving in Afghanistan between the start of operations in October 2001 and 2015.
It has been well-documented how many Westerners left the safety of Europe to travel to Syria and Iraq to fight for Islamic State before its collapse in 2019.
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Many had been radicalised online by IS recruiters who used propaganda to brainwash these often impressionable and vulnerable people.
And as well as committing atrocities in the Middle East, many returned to Europe badly scarred by their experiences and out for vengeance against the West – which they saw as being ultimately responsible for all of their problems.
France suffered particularly badly when heavily-armed jihadis killed 130 people in Paris in 2015.
And Lee Rigby’s killers were radicalised after converting to Islam before they struck down the soldier in 2013.
More recently IS bride Shamima Begum has spoken out about her experiences under the caliphate as she tries to return to the UK.
The 21-year-old is currently appealing the Home Office’s decision to remove her British citizenship.
She was one of three east London schoolgirls who travelled to Syria in February 2015 and supported Islamic State.
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