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Terrorism: British Nationals Abroad

Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN 206805, tabled on 21 July 2014

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what discussions he has had with his (a) Egyptian, (b) Syrian and (c) Iraqi counterparts on preventing UK nationals becoming involved in terrorist groups.

Answered on

1 September 2014

We remain concerned about the significant number of UK nationals becoming involved in terrorist groups. Since the conflict in Syria began, over 500 individuals have travelled to fight from the UK. Our priority is to dissuade people from travelling to areas of conflict in the first place, and to identify and dissuade individuals at risk of radicalisation.

We are working closely with allies, partners in the region and through the UN and EU on counter-terrorism priorities. We have had extensive discussions with the opposition Syrian National Coalition on the threat of extremism, including the role of UK nationals. We welcome their rejection of terrorism and their consistent condemnation of terrorist acts, as well as their commitment to upholding international human rights and humanitarian law. We are supporting the moderate opposition in Syria who are leading the fight against both the regime and wider extremism, including ISIL.

The Prime Minister called the Iraq Prime Minister PM Designate, Dr Haidar al-Abadi, and President Massoud Barzani of the Kurdistan Regional Government on 13 August to show UK support for Dr al-Abadi’s efforts to form a new government and encourage cooperation between Baghdad and Erbil. Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Tobias Ellwood and Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening visited Baghdad and Erbil on 26-27 August. In Baghdad they met President Fuad Masoum, Prime Minister-designate al-Abadi and Speaker Salman al-Jibouri, all of whom were clear that early progress on the formation of a new government is critical to progress in tackling the challenge Iraq faces from ISIL, and all of whom welcomed UK support.

The Foreign Secretary discussed the issue of foreign fighters with the Egyptian Foreign Minister in Cairo on 24 July, and Mr Ellwood discussed the regional security situation, including Iraq and Syria, with the Secretary General of the Arab League and the Egyptian Assistant Minister for Europe in Cairo on 25 August.