Tags: Al-Qaida | Emerging Threats | War on Terrorism | ISIS | terrorists | British ISIS fighters | British jihadists

British Extremists Disillusioned With ISIS-Style Jihad

By    |   Friday, 05 September 2014 11:09 AM

Several British jihadists are saying fighting with the Islamic State wasn't what they thought it would be, and they want to come back home.

One such fighter, whose name was kept anonymous, has contacted the International Centre for Study of Radicalisation and Political Science at King's College in London to seek amnesty for himself and 30 other British jihadists, reports The London Times

He said the the men in his group are despondent because they thought they joined the ISIS ranks to fight against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime, but ended up fighting against rival rebel groups.

The British man told researchers: “We came to fight the regime and instead we are involved in gang warfare. It’s not what we came for but if we go back [to Britain] we will go to jail. Right now we are being forced to fight — what option do we have?”

The jihadist said his group is concerned they'll be met with prison sentences if they come home, but said they would be willing to return and become part of a de-radicalization program and to undergo surveillance from the British government.

According to The Times, more than 500 British citizens are believed to have gone to the Syria-Iraq region since 2011 to join ISIS, and government officials are concerned they are being trained to return to the West and attempt acts of terrorism.

Some foreign jihadists have been posting online that they are worried they won't get their "rewards" in paradise if they die fighting other jihadist groups. Of the 20 British jihadists who have been killed, nine died fighting Assad's regime, but at least another six died fighting rival Sunni Muslim groups.

ICSR Director Peter Neumann, said as many as 20 percent of the British people who have become jihadists may be trying to return home, and the government should set up a process to deprogram the ones who show remorse.

"The people we have been talking to want to quit, but feel trapped because all the government is talking about is locking them up for 30 years," said Neumann. "If you only have a law-and-order message then you risk creating a self-fulfilling prophecy where they simply go to the next battlefront and become really hardened extremists."

Dr. Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, director of the Center for the Study of Terrorist Radicalization in Washington, told The Times it is not surprising the jihadists want to quit.

"They are spending time fighting other rebels but they have also been ordered to carry out massive atrocities they didn’t expect," he said. "We need to encourage people to understand there is a way out."

The U.S. State Department is waging a campaign on social media in hopes of discouraging Americans from joining the jihadists' battles. On Twitter, the department operates an official account, "Think Again, Turn Away," posting stories from the battle lines to discourage people from joining the jihadists' ranks. In addition, State has set up a video account on YouTube, in which it posts anti-jihadist videos.

Gartenstein-Ross said many jihadists will probably leave ISIS in the upcoming year, but they may likely shift over to al-Qaida.

Many self-described extremists say ISIS is too extreme even for them, reports CBS News

One European jihadist, going by the name of "Abu Mohammed," told CBS that while he's "extreme in my Islam and I'm proud of that," fighting on the front lines in Syria and to establish an Islamic state has changed his mind.

"I just need to take some time to think a little bit, to reflect, to see if it's all worth it,
he said. "The jihad has completely changed. This is wasn't what we came for, to kill other Muslims. We went to fight the regime."

Mohammed told CBS he, like many other jihadists, does not approve of the executions of American journalists James Foley and Stephen Sotloff, and it bothers him that ISIS is killing large numbers of Muslims.

"I don't like to talk badly about the Islamic State too much," he said. "At the end of the day they're my brothers in Islam, but they're making mistakes and they're too harsh on people and they don't listen to scholars. I'm 100 percent convinced that they're on the wrong path."


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Several British jihadists are saying fighting with the Islamic State wasn't what they thought it would be, and they want to come back home.
ISIS, terrorists, British ISIS fighters, British jihadists
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2014-09-05
Friday, 05 September 2014 11:09 AM
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