SecurityNewsDesk was on hand for the insightful presentation by Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service, at the National Security Summit, held on Tuesday October 21st.
At the event, he said that at least five Britons a week are heading to Syria to fight for Islamic State terrorists, as well as pointing out that the true figure was likely to be far higher as officers cannot keep watch on all routes to the war zone. He also admitted that the return of militarised jihadis to the streets of the UK posed a threat to security.
More than 500 Britons are believed to have gone to Syria to fight, half of whom may have returned.
He also said that police believe that number will jump by 50 per cent in the next 12 months, despite up to 30 British jihadis dying in the fighting and the public outrage at the beheading of British aid workers Alan Henning and David Haines.
Sir Bernard said, “Five a week doesn’t sound much but when you realise there are 50-odd weeks in a year, 250 more would be 50 per cent more than we think have gone already.
“Those numbers are a minimum. There may be many more who set out to travel to another country and meandered over to Syria and Iraq in a way that is not always possible to spot when you have failed states and leaky borders.”
Sir Bernard has backed plans to hand police the power to seize passports if they suspect Britons are travelling abroad to fight with terror groups.
He also called for airlines to hand over passenger lists with much more notice.