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Daesh women, minors pose huge security risk to UK: report

File photo shows a Daesh militant.

A new report published in Britain has indicated that the country faces a huge security threat from female and minor returnees of Daesh-led militancy in Iraq and Syria.

The findings of the repot by International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) at King’s College London, published Monday on the website of The Guardian newspaper, showed that women and minors accounted for 23 percent of Daesh recruits from Britain in Syria and Iraq, a figure that the report said had been significantly underestimated by the authorities.

“We believe some women may now pose a particular security threat based on several factors. These include the physical security roles and related training,” said the report, adding that authorities had only confirmed the return of two women and four minors from Daesh bastions to Britain.

It said the failure to report all 425 cases of return, of a total of 850 British citizens who became affiliated with Daesh in Iraq and Syria over the  past years, was mainly due to lack of official government data.

“The British citizens that have now been confirmed as returning to the UK have not been differentiated by gender, or age delineation...,” said the report.

It also warned that women and minors who have fought along the ranks of Daesh posed a much more serious security threat than men when they returned home.

“These include the physical security roles and related training ... and the potential to transfer or apply these skills in other locations, or to their children,” it said.

In this file photo taken on June 04, 2017 Police officers and members of the emergency services attend to a person injured in an apparent terror attack on London Bridge in central London on June 3, 2017. (AFP photo)

The report cited several examples of women and children actively seeking to revive Daesh-related operations in Western countries, warning that Britain could also become a ripe ground for such activities in future.

“Women and minors are poised to play a significant role in the organization going forward – they may assist in keeping the ideology alive, passing it on to the next generation, continuing to recruit members, support IS (Daesh) in other ways such as fundraising, or perpetrating violence on behalf of the group,” noted the report.

British security services busted an all-female terror cell linked to Daesh last year. The cell, which had attempted a attack on the British Museum in London, was led by Safaa Boular, a British teenager who went on to marry a Daesh militant online. The young girl had been trained in Syria by an Australian recruit of Daesh.

Britain, like many Western countries, has seen terrorist attacks by Daesh returnees or home-grown recruits over the past years. Authorities have repeatedly warned that those retuning from Iraq and Syria, where Daesh has almost been obliterated now, could launch similar attacks in future.

The ICSR report said a total of 41,490 foreign citizens had joined Daesh in Iraq and Syria between April 2013 and June 2018, putting the number of women and minor recruits at 4,761 and 4,640, respectively.


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