Britain has seen more Islamic State fighters return home than any Western country, according to a report by MI6’s former director of global counterterrorism, who warned of the risk they continue to pose. More than 425 of the 850 Britons who left to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) in the last five years have returned, only fewer than Turkey's 900 returnees, Tunisia's 800 and Saudi Arabia's 760. The number who have come back to the UK compares with around 300 in Germany and 271 in France, which saw nearly 2,000 join Isil, according to Richard Barrett’s report for the US-based Soufan Centre think-tank. The figures also reveal that more than 1,100 high-risk Britons had been flagged to authorities in Turkey over suspicion they planned to travel through the country on to neighbouring Syria. While more than 100 Isil British jihadists are thought to have been killed, including the UK’s most wanted woman Sally Jones in a CIA drone strike earlier this year, as many as 350 are unaccounted for and could still be at large. The research suggested more than 40,000 individuals travelled to join Isil from more than 110 nations both before and after it declared a caliphate in June 2014. Briton's most notorious jihadists Junaid Hussein, Mohammed Emwazi aka Jihadi John and Reyaad Khan filmed in 2014 in video given to The Telegraph Credit: The Telegraph The number represents more than four times as many fighters as the number of recruits who joined the fight against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. The new assessment calculates that at least 5,600 isil jihadists have gone back to their home countries, some of whom after becoming disillusioned with the group but others to carry out attacks in the West. It says the returnees - most of whom are imprisoned or disappear from view - will continue to present a security challenge for years to come. The report comes as debate rages in the UK over how to security services should deal with those who decided to join the terror group. Rory Stewart, the international development minister, said at the weekend that those who left to fight for the "death cult" are guilty of horrific acts and the only way of dealing with them is to kill them "in almost every case". “I don’t think these sort of comments are helpful,” Mr Barrett told the Telegraph on Tuesday. “They certainly won’t do much to encourage those perhaps looking to surrender or give up their fight to do so. They will probably decide they’re better off just battling to the end in that case. “It will only feed conspiracy theories that they already believe that our special forces are just killing them all on sight and there is no judicial process” he added. British Isil fighter Mohammed Emwazi brandishes a knife in this still file image from a 2014 video Credit: SITE Max Hill QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, last week called for a focus on "reintegration" in cases where authorities have decided individuals who return should not face prosecution. The Home Office has disclosed that of the 400 fighters who had returned from Syria and Iraq, only 54 were convicted. Several hundred foreign fighters surrendered to US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in the final days of the battle for the Syrian city of Raqqa last week. It is thought at least one Briton may have been among them. The other remaining recruits are thought to have either been killed by air strikes, or continue to fight for the group in its last-remaining territory in Deir Ezzor province to the south of Raqqa.
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