UK & World News

  • 23 December 2013, 10:03

Britons Joining Jihad Stripped Of Nationality

Home Secretary Theresa May has stepped up the use of powers to strip British jihadists fighting in Syria of their nationality to prevent their return to the UK.

Mrs May has targeted 20 dual-nationals this year using "deprivation of citizenship orders", records uncovered by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism show.

It marks a rapid increase in the use of the powers, which had only previously been deployed 17 times in two-and-a-half years.

Almost all of the orders made this year, which do not need judicial approval, were issued while the jihadists were overseas.

The Home Office said: "The government will take all necessary steps to protect the public.

"Citizenship is a privilege, not a right, and the Home Secretary will remove British citizenship from individuals where she feels it is conducive to the public good to do so."

Benjamin Ward, deputy director of Human Rights Watch Europe and Central Asia Division, said: "If there is a national security dimension to the stripping of citizenship and if that is something that would be known to the other country of nationality, then that would give rise to concern.

"It's obviously very important that in looking at these issues the Government complies with its human rights obligations."

According to official figures, there are estimated to be up to 240 UK-linked individuals currently fighting in Syria.

But a recent Sky News investigation revealed UK security services may have greatly underestimated the number of British jihadists in Syria.

In interviews carried out by US journalist and Muslim convert Bilal Abdul Kareem, exclusively for Sky News, British fighters claimed hundreds of young men from the UK have joined the fight against Bashar al Assad's government and that "at least" four die each month.

They also claimed that Britain remains the largest single source of private fundraising for jihadi fighters, outdoing countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE.

But the Islamic fighters insisted they have no intentions of attacking UK targets or waging jihad on British soil.

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