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More British Muslims fighing for Islamic extremists than the British Army

Why are hundreds of British Muslims fighting for the IS in the Middle East. Photo Tom Briker /Foter/Creative Commons

Why are hundreds of British Muslims fighting for the IS in the Middle East? Photo Tom Briker /Foter/Creative Commons

According to Khalid Mahmood, a British MP from Birmingham, England, there are more British Muslims fighting for Islamic State (IS) extremists in the Middle East than there are serving in the British army. The IS — which goes by various acronyms including ISIS (Islamic State in Syria) — is attempting to set up an Islamic Caliphate in the Middle East.

The British army says there are 600 Muslims serving in the British army. MP Khalid Mahmood believes over the last three years 1,500 British Muslims have joined the IS in its fight in the Middle East.

His estimate conflicts with the British foreign affairs office that believes only 400 British Muslims have joined the extremist cause.

In an interview with Newsweek, Mahmood said:

“If you look across the whole of the country [England], and the various communities involved, 500 going over each year would be a conservative estimate.”

Others estimate the number of British Muslims fighting with extremists in the Middle East at around 700. The Kurds, who are fighting the IS in Northern Iraq, are reporting coming across extremists with season tickets to English professional football teams.

The news follows an August YouTube video showing the decapitation of an American journalist James Foley who was taken prisoner in Syria in 2012. The terrorist who killed Foley spoke with an obvious British accent and has since been dubbed “Jihadi John.” He was left-handed.

Investigators believe he was the same left-handed man in a video from May where a soldier with the Syrian army was executed. In this video, ‘Jihadi John’ stands beside a second British terrorist who killed the Syrian soldier.

In June, ‘Jihadi John’, along with two other British fighters, showed up in a video asking British Muslims to financially support the IS cause.

While the British government focuses its attention on instituting laws and using the courts to stifle and punish Christians in that country (read here, here and here), Muslim extremists flourish.  According to reports, the extremists are using social media such as Twitter and YouTube to spread their views among English Muslims.

There is growing concern that these radicalized extremist will not only prove to be a powerful influence on other Muslims in England, but they may at some point return not only further radicalized, but also trained to murder.

Who is IS?

IS officially formed in April 2013, when an al-Qaeda leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi broke from the terrorist organization to form his own group. He had been a commander in al-Qaeda since 2010.

IS is now considered the most radical and dangerous terrorist group in the world. It has made significant inroads in both Syria and Iraq and since it gained control of the oil fields of Syria, it is also has a source of income. US Intelligence estimates IS raises $2 million a day through oil sales, smuggling, taxes and extortion. This puts it at a significant advantage over other competing terrorist organization largely dependent on outside donations.

The capture of Mosul — a provincial capital in Northern Iraq — this past June was its most significant move in Iraq to date. IS seems to have already set up Sharia law in the city.

Thousands of radicals have left al-Qaeda and other terrorists organizations to join IS. Some estimate that 80% of the terrorist fighters in the Middle East now belong to IS. In addition to thousands of regional fighters, IS  claims to have members from England, Germany, France, Canada, Holland and the US in its ranks.

The organization is famous for its brutality and its goal is to set up a Caliphate state ruled by a supreme religious/political leader — a Caliph. The Caliphate follows a strict interpretation of Sharia law.

Caliph means “successor” and refers to a kingdom ruled by a successor to Mohammed. There are two traditions among Muslims on how this is set up. The Sunni branch believe this leader is chosen (elected by Muslims). The Shia branch believe that God chooses the Caliph and he must be a direct descendant of Mohammed (570 ad to 632 ad).

IS is made up largely of Sunni Muslims. The group forces non-Muslims to convert to Islam or be killed. Christians have been particularly targeted.

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