British jihadis who went to fight for Islamic State in Syria and Iraq could now be on the battlefield in Afghanistan after travelling through ‘porous borders’, ministers fear.
Foreign Office minister Mark Field said yesterday that there was a risk that some of the hundreds of UK nationals who went to the Middle East could now have joined IS’s branch carrying out deadly attacks in Kabul.
Speaking in the Commons, he was also questioned about the Government’s policy on Afghan interpreters, many of whom have been abandoned in the war-ravaged nation despite helping the British Army.
He said it was right that interpreters who risked their lives for UK troops should be ‘properly protected’, adding that he would be ‘very disturbed’ if that were not the case.
But the Daily Mail’s Betrayal of the Brave campaign has shown that hundreds of interpreters have been denied sanctuary in Britain even though they are at risk from Taliban reprisals.
In recent days, we have revealed a string of scandals over the Government’s policy on the issue.
Labour MP John Woodcock asked Mr Field what the Government’s estimate was for the number of British citizens who had transferred to Afghanistan to fight for IS.
Mr Field responded: ‘Clearly, there is a concern that the porous borders on all sides of Afghanistan are open to those from Daesh, or so called Islamic State, and obviously there, therefore, is the risk that some of the many hundreds of UK nationals who have been fighting in Syria and Iraq may find their way to Afghanistan.’
Mr Woodcock said: ‘The Afghan conflict has been going on for more than a decade so the minister’s admission will heighten fears that British jihadis will get even more trained and battle hardened before finding their way back to the UK to commit acts of terror.
‘Though Daesh is being driven out of Iraq and Syria, its operatives are still at large and its twisted ideology still has the capacity to corrupt and brainwash people back in the UK.’
Mr Field’s comments came after IS militants attacked Afghan soldiers guarding a military academy in the capital Kabul yesterday, killing at least 11 and wounding 16.
The attack was the latest in a wave of relentless violence in Kabul this month unleashed by the Taliban and the rival IS group, which has killed hundreds. MPs heard that 2017 was a record year for civilian casualties in Afghanistan, where Britain still has hundreds of troops stationed.
Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry asked if ministers planned on relocating more former interpreters to the UK given the ‘rapid deterioration’ of the security position in the country.
Mr Field said he would be ‘very disturbed’ if the interpreters were not being looked after, but could not comment on individual cases.
Source: Daily Mail