Foreign Secretary: British nationals involved in IS atrocities

Philip Hammond says the UK is “very much aware” of Brits becoming involved in the Islamic State militant group.

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Following the shocking, though yet unverified, footage showing the US journalist James Foley being beheaded by a masked militant who identifies himself as an Islamic State (IS) member, in an apparently British accent, the Foreign Secretary has voiced the UK’s condemnation.

Most striking about Philip Hammond’s comments to the BBC this morning about the video was his warning that British nationals are becoming involved with Jihadists in the killing in Iraq, commenting that there is a “significant number of British nationals” in Syria, and increasingly, in Iraq.

He said the UK is “very much aware” of the threat of Brits becoming involved in the IS extremist group, and acknowledged that “on the face of it”, it appears that the masked man in the horrific video is British, because of his accent – though further analysis of the footage is necessary.

Hammond revealed that UK security authorities knew there were some British citizens who have become complicit in “terrible crimes, probably in the commission of atrocities, making Jihad with ISIL and other extremist organisations”.

He added: “This is something we have been tracking and dealing with for many many months and I don't think this video changes anything.

“It just heightens awareness of a situation which is very grave and which we've been working on for many months.”

Hammond also warned that the apparent involvement of British citizens is one of the reasons that the militant group operating in Iraq poses “such a direct threat” to the UK. “Many of these people may seek at some point to return to the UK and they would then pose a direct threat to our domestic security.”

Anoosh Chakelian is the New Statesman’s Britain editor.

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