Britain braces for a Jihadi bride invasion
- Secret intelligence analysis seen by The Mail on Sunday warns of the influx
- The anticipated military defeat of Islamic State (IS) in their stronghold of Raqqa is set to send jihadis back across Europe
- Returning jihadi women are expected to delete incriminating social media accounts
Scores of British jihadi women and children returning home from Syria and Iraq as the Islamic State crumbles pose an unprecedented threat to the UK, secret intelligence analysis warns.
According to a chilling classified report prepared for the Prime Minister by intelligence officers – and seen by The Mail on Sunday – lone-wolf terror attacks by returnees are all but inevitable.
While the threat by battle-hardened adult male jihadis is well-known, this is the first time the danger of women and children returning from Syria and Iraq has been documented.
The secret warning comes as the anticipated military defeat of Islamic State (IS) in their stronghold of Raqqa is set to send jihadis back across Europe – a threat dubbed the ‘Raqqa scatter’.
Returning women and children will escape prosecution for terror offences if they can convince police they were coerced into travelling to Syria or Iraq by husbands or parents.
The document warns that as IS faces imminent military defeat, it is more and more likely to use women and children to carry out attacks in Britain.
Intelligence services fear that as IS’s final defeat looms, the increasing number of female jihadis who try to re-enter will reach the point where it will not be possible to adequately monitor them.
The report states: ‘The threat women pose is likely to be greater than the available intelligence allows us to assess.’
More than 850 Britons have travelled to Syria and Iraq, the vast majority to join IS. About half have already returned, the report says.
Of the remainder there are about 80 women and at least 90 British-born children. But the actual number of those returning could be much higher as many British ‘jihadi brides’ have had children in the Middle East.
Returning jihadi women are expected to delete incriminating social media accounts and destroy mobile phones to hinder any investigations.
THE 'RAQQA SCATTER' THREAT
The term ‘Raqqa scatter’ is used by the intelligence officers who wrote the secret report seen by The MoS. It refers to the fear that European jihadis fighting in the IS strongholds of Raqqa and Mosul will return to wreak havoc in the West after the terror group’s defeat. Among them may be women such as white convert Sally-Anne Jones, whose 11-year-old son apparently executed a prisoner in a horrific IS video.
Last year, Tareena Shakil became the first returning female jihadi to be jailed – after taking her baby son with her to Syria in 2014 – but others may go free if they convince police they were forced into going to the caliphate.
Some will try to come back with their children using false identities and forged documents, the report says.
The study claims that some British women have already undergone military training under IS including Aqsa Mahmood, 22, from Glasgow, and white convert Sally-Anne Jones, 46, from Gillingham, Kent, who took her son with her to Syria. They were part of IS’s infamous Al-Khansa Brigade, a female morality police accused of torturing other women.
Suspected jihadis who cannot be prosecuted because of a lack of evidence can be made subject to Temporary Exclusion Orders under which they are tagged and monitored.
The Home Office can also use Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPIMs), putting an extremist under house arrest in a property hundreds of miles away from their local area.
At present, there are only six individuals in Britain subject to TPIMs.
If a returning jihadi has dual nationality, the Government may try to strip away their British citizenship and ban them from returning to the country in what is known as deprivation of citizenship.
IS expert Nikita Malik of think-tank the Quilliam Foundation said: ‘We have seen child soldiers in other theatres of war, but nothing like under IS, who brainwash children through their schools.’
A look into British jihadi bride Umm Layth's online world