'UK jihadis disguising as tourists to enter Syria via Cyprus'
Aspiring British jihadists wanting to join ISIS are disguising themselves as tourists and reportedly entering Syria through Cyprus where a "travel agent" of the terror group facilitates their onward journey.
London: Aspiring British jihadists wanting to join ISIS are disguising themselves as tourists and reportedly entering Syria through Cyprus where a "travel agent" of the terror group facilitates their onward journey.
British jihadis lured into joining Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are being smuggled in through the sunshine island of Cyprus.
Starting their journey on budget flights to the holiday destination, they then travel into Turkish-controlled Northern Cyprus. There, they hand over up to 1,000 pounds to fishermen who are willing to take them across the Mediterranean and drop them on the Syrian coastline under cover of darkness, The Mirror reported.
"It's difficult to put firm numbers on it -- I'd estimate many dozens of people from the UK have used this route to reach the caliphate. It's a simple business contract, the deals are carried out in cash -- always cash. Everyone knows what is going on. But it's never spoken about," a source was quoted as saying by the daily.
Last week the British government announced a major crackdown on people heading from the UK to fight for ISIS.
Would-be jihadis first make contact with a man in Northern Cyprus known as "the ISIS travel agent", the report said.
To evade security services, communication takes place via text message. He arranges hotel accommodation, taxi services and their onward travel by sea to Syria, it said.
The island remains divided after a war in 1974. The north, aligned with Turkey, is not internationally recognised as a country.
United Nations troops patrol the border to keep the peace - while Britain has two military bases in the south.
Once they land they stay in small cheap hotels in one of the nearby seaside resorts.
The 'ISIS travel agent' -- across the border in Famagusta on the Turkish side of the island -- then fixes for transport to bring them across, the report said.
It is quick, simple and while passports are checked by border control it is a simple process, it said.
In recent years Northern Cyprus has become infamous for its crime links and the hiding place for many notorious Britons.
Many criminals on the UK's 'most wanted' list are in hiding in luxury villas.