To report an imminent threat call 999 or ring the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321
Current UK threat level: SEVERE Read more about threat levels >>

FOREIGN FIGHTERS

UK nationals travelling overseas to serve with extremist groups as "foreign fighters" present a potential threat to the UK, both while they are overseas and when they return to the UK.


The threat posed by foreign fighters

While overseas, these fighters can help terrorist groups to develop the ability to carry out attacks by linking them up with extremist networks in the UK and providing information about potential targets. In addition to English language skills, which can help these groups reach a wide audience through propaganda on the Internet, some foreign fighters may also have other specialist skills (e.g. scientific, IT) that can be useful to overseas terrorist groups.

Foreign fighters can gain combat experience, access to training and a network of overseas extremist contacts. The skills, contacts and status acquired overseas can make these individuals a much greater threat when they return to the UK, even if they have not been tasked directly to carry out an attack on their return. Experience of fighting overseas with terrorist groups can also promote radicalisation.


Destinations for foreign fighters

Syria is a particularly attractive destination for UK extremists wishing to engage in violent jihad. Hundreds of British extremists have travelled there, a significant proportion of whom joined the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The nature of the conflict in Syria and presence of ISIL and Al Qaida-affiliated groups such as the Al Nusra Front (ANF) make the country a significant source of threat to the UK and UK interests overseas. We have also seen British nationals travel to Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia to fight or obtain terrorist training.

Fact or Fiction?
MI5's London headquarters is known as "the ziggurat".

True False

Latest News

view ALL News

Director General Andrew Parker Speech to BfV Symposium

Director General Andrew Parker gave a speech to the BfV Symposium in Berlin on 14 May 2018.

Read Full Article ›

MI5 wins LGBT British Employer of the Year

MI5 has been named Employer of the Year at the 2018 British LGBT Awards.

Read Full Article ›