Disillusioned British jihadists seek amnesty

The Times reports: Dozens of British jihadists have become so disillusioned with fighting in Syria that they have contacted Britain begging to come home.

One jihadist, claiming to represent 30 Britons, approached an intermediary to complain of growing despondency among the men in his group. They had gone to fight against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime but were instead engaged primarily in fierce combat with rival rebel groups, he said.

The man contacted researchers from the International Centre for Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence at King’s College London in the past two weeks. He effectively sought amnesty, saying the group feared long prison terms but would be willing to enrol on a deradicalisation program and submit to surveillance.

The militants are from a group affiliated with Islamic State. More than 500 British citizens are believed to have travelled to the region since 2011. Most have joined Islamic State.

The British man told researchers: “We came to fight the regime and instead we are involved in gang warfare. It’s not what we came for, but if we go back we will go to jail.

“Right now we are being forced to fight — what option do we have?”

Shiraz Maher, who runs a research unit at ICSR that is in intermittent contact with about 50 British jihadists, said the man regretted being involved in the conflict. [Continue reading…]

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