Syrian conflict may `radicalise British Muslims`

Khalid Mahmood, the Labour MP, expressed concerns after ‘dozens’ of Britons joined uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

Updated: Aug 17, 2012, 17:54 PM IST

Damascus: Young British Muslims are in danger of being radicalised by the conflict in Syria, an MP in the UK has warned.

According to the Daily Star, Khalid Mahmood, the Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr, expressed concerns after ‘dozens’ of Britons travelled from London and the Midlands to join the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad with some linking up with militant Islamist groups.

Mahmood said that the situation had the potential to radicalise a new generation of jihadists, the report said.

“I am extremely concerned at the moment because I see similar things to what happened at the original stages of the Afghanistan war where we were supporting the mujahideen against the Russians,” the report quoted Mahmood as saying.

“We wanted to get the Russians out and we armed people, we encouraged people to go out there and fight in the jihad,” he added.

According to the report, Noman Benotman, of the anti-extremist Quilliam Foundation, said the numbers of foreign fighters in Syria were still relatively small.

However, he said that ‘activists’ were exploiting the Islamic concept of umma or community to encourage young people to join jihadi groups, the report added.

"It is the issue of belonging. Some people don`t believe that they belong to this society, this country," he said, adding: "It is very, very powerful, beyond the imagination, the concept of umma, especially when it comes to the extremists and the jihadists."