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On jihadis returning from Syria




Sir, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe worries that British men are being radicalised in Syria ("250 jihadis spark UK terror alert", Feb 16). It is more likely that these men were already radicalised at home - which is why they went to wage jihad in Syria, with which few have any connection. The responsibility for this lies with failure of government policy on both the foreign and domestic fronts. The folly of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have radicalised significant numbers of Muslims as was predicted by many.

The present and previous governments stressed the importance of faith identities and of Britain being a "multifaith" society. Don't be surprised if some believe that their primary allegiance is to those of their faith around the world, to the point of waging jihad in support of them. Sectarian conflicts abroad spill over at home, as with the Sunni-Shia rivalry in the Middle East - those going to Syria are fighting a Sunni jihad against the Shia, or vice versa.

This kind of development supports those MoD officials who now rule out a repeat of the Afghanistan or Iraq invasions because Britain, being an increasingly diverse (ie, multifaith) nation, would have to deploy troops in countries from which UK citizens, or their families, once came. In other words, they are highlighting the risk of "blowback" - that is, of future wars "coming home". I hope that the political establishment will learn the appropriate lessons.

Letter to The Times 20th February 2012