UK charges Briton in Syria kidnapping

2012-10-17 08:11

London — A British man has been charged in the kidnapping of two Western journalists in Syria, police said on Tuesday, adding to growing concerns about foreign extremists travelling to the civil war-stricken Arab state and posing a future threat to the West.

Shajul Islam, aged 26, was arrested on suspicion of terror offenses on 9 October at London's Heathrow Airport after arriving on a flight from Egypt alongside a 26-year-old British woman. The woman, who has not been named, was released without charge earlier on Tuesday.

Islam was accused of working with others to "unlawfully and injuriously imprison" two photographers, Briton John Cantlie and his Dutch colleague Jeroen Oerlemans, against their will between 17 July and 26 July in Syria, police said. He was remanded in custody and expected to appear in a London court on Wednesday.

The abduction of the veteran journalists raised concerns that British Muslims might be slipping into Syria to join extremists. The photographers said after their week-long ordeal that some of their captors spoke with British accents.

Oerlemans, a prominent Dutch photographer who was shot twice during a failed attempt to escape from his captors, told The Associated Press last week that the ages of Islam and the released woman appeared to be consistent with the ages of the people who held him hostage shortly after he entered Syria on 19 July. But he said there were no women involved in the kidnapping.

Police have declined to comment on British press reports that one of the pair picked up at the airport may be a British National Health Service doctor believed to have been involved with an Islamist terror group in Syria.

From anywhere but Syria

Cantlie, who had worked for the Sunday Times newspaper, had said that none of his captors were Syrian.

"They were from anywhere but Syria. They were from Bangladesh, they were from Pakistan, they were from the UK, they were from Chechnya, the Caucuses — a real mix," he told the BBC in an interview.

Cantlie also said that one of his captors claimed to be a British medic who said he had taken a sabbatical from his work so that he could treat wounded fighters in Syria.

"I asked for his help as we were both from London, but he refused to even send a text to my girlfriend to say we were alive. He said he would be beheaded if he did," Cantlie was quoted as saying in the Daily Mail.

European intelligence officials had said there is evidence that foreigners — including British and French nationals — have joined the fight against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime, but the number of foreign extremists involved in the conflict remains unclear.

British officials have said fewer than 100 nationals or people with links to Britain are thought to have travelled to Syria to fight against Assad's regime.

  • fidel.mgoqi - 2012-10-17 08:48

    "European intelligence officials had said there is evidence that foreigners — including British and French nationals — have joined the fight against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime, but the number of foreign extremists involved in the conflict remains unclear." The European intelligence agencies should ask Anthony or Fred as they have the exact percentages of foreign fighters in Syria, after that they should all resign and let Anthony lead their agencies.

      Gcodi Mahomed - 2012-10-17 08:59

      ANTHONEY AND FRED ,are just as confused ,if not more,then the americans themselves,polls show that 80 percent of americans dont have a clue why america is supporting AL QAIDA in SYRIA

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-17 09:29

      ANY popular uprising attracts armed gangs, foreign mercenaries, and foreign terrorists groups. They are and will remain an insignificant part of the opposition to this assad terrorist. It is ONLY the violent loonies of the left, who want to CONFUSE, and minimize the real opposition to this assad thug. The Syrians are as determent as black South Africans were, in their liberation struggle, to get MAJORITY rule. Anyone who denies this to the Syrians ABUSES HIS/HER own FREEDOM !!!!!

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-10-17 09:35

      Well Anthony, you have been the in house statician, pulling out all sorts of numbers from your @$$, so please tell us what percentage of these terrorists are foreign!

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-17 12:58

      Fidel, YOU are the in house historicist, and "know everything" HOW MANY dictators, who have been toppled, do you know , who ,thereafter' have had more than 5 % of 'their ' population behind them. It is a fact, that as soon as these dictators/terrorists are gone , just about ALL their support evaporates into hot air !!!!!! Coming to percentages of what you call 'terrorists', but are called OVER THE WHOLE WORLD, opposition or freedom fighters; HOW COME, all these following people or organizations, have talked THOUSANDS of words re Syria, but have NEVER EVER mentioned "foreign terrorists groups" !! For this reason, anyone with a sane mind, and not having some alternative BS and CRAP program, will assume, theses 'terrorists' are an insignificant amount; UN GA UN SC Russia Ban Ki-moon Kofi Anan UN Gen Mood Amnesty International Red Cross Medicines sans Frontiers Independent reporters on the ground And current UN envoy Brahimi But, who knows, maybe they ""just forgot"" , to mention about all these foreign terrorists groups !!!!!

      tom.guy.37669528 - 2012-10-17 14:28

      Anthony, they did mention them. Just because you didn't read about it doesn't mean it didn't happen so stop talking bs.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-17 17:56

      Tom, 9836534582535825383265539236, You come up with hundreds of references that one should look at, Come, don't just have a big mouth, show me where has any of the above persons, countries, institutions, etc, EVER ,talked about -------------------"FOREIGN TERRORIST GROUPS"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!----------- Now, don't be a coward, You accuse me of misinformation-----------PROOF IT !!!!!!

  • Gcodi Mahomed - 2012-10-17 08:55

    UK and USA are supporting AL QAIDA in SYRIA,in there so call WAR ON TERROR!!!!!

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-17 17:57

      Gcodi, Enjoy your evening !!!

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