The Guardian: Al-Qaida in Syria is Most Serious Terrorist Threat to UK, West

LONDON- A report issued by the Intelligence and Security Committee at the British House of Common warned of catastrophic consequences should a-Qaeda terrorists get hold of chemical weapons.

The report, which was published by Britain's "The Guardian" newspaper on Thursday, said that Al-Qaida elements fighting with the armed groups and "Jihadists" in Syria constitute the most serious terrorist threat to Britain and the West, and if they were to get their hands on chemical weapons the consequences could be catastrophic.

The warnings, in the latest annual report of the parliamentary intelligence and security committee (ISC) published on Wednesday, come amid growing reports that the armed groups are trying to acquire chemical weapons.

Russia said on Wednesday it had proof that the armed groups in Syria used the nerve agent sarin in a missile attack on a government-controlled suburb of Aleppo in March. The British prime minister, David Cameron, said last month that al-Qaida-linked elements had tried to capture chemical weapons for probable use in Syria.

Britain's security and intelligence chiefs "assess that al-Qaida elements and individual jihadists in Syria currently represent the most worrying emerging terrorist threat to the UK and the west," says the ISC.

It adds: "There is a risk of extremist elements in Syria taking advantage of the permissive environment to develop external attack plans, including against western targets. Large numbers of extremist individuals have infiltrated to the country, including significant numbers from the UK and Europe."

They are likely to acquire "expertise and experience which could significantly increase the threat posed when they return home," says the ISC report. Intelligence officials believe about 100 British people have gone to Syria to join extremist groups.

The shape of the terrorist threat is "potentially changing from tightly organized cells under the control of structured hierarchies to looser networks of small groups and individuals who operate more independently," says the ISC.

Armed terrorist groups in Syria fired a rocket carrying chemical materialsat Khan al-Assal town in rural Aleppo on March 19th. As a result, 25 civilians were martyred and more than 100 were wounded most of them had serious injuries. 

H. Mustafa