Fears have been raised 300 British jihadis could be plotting attacks on the UK from Syria after a defector revealed several Britons hold senior positions in ISIS.
Stefan Aristidou, 23, of Enfield, who joined ISIS in 2015, revealed there were between 250 and 300 British terrorists within the organisation and believes they are planning to continue targetting the UK following a series of foiled attacks.
It comes after six people were arrested by anti-terror police during a raid on a house in Willesden last week, with a 21-year-old woman who was shot by officers in the leg subsequently arrested yesterday.
Meanwhile Khalid Mohammed Omar Ali, 27, was also arrested last week in Westminster on suspicion of possession of a knife and preparing terrorism after allegedly being found with a ‘rucksack full of knives’ in the capital.
Aristidou and his British wife Kolsoma Begum, 22, surrendered to Turkish authorities last week after spending two years in Syria.
Aristidou’s family reported him missing after he ceased contact with them a week after he travelled to Larnaca, Cyprus, on Easter Sunday in 2015.
Up until his disappearance, he lived in Enfield, North London, with his mother and sister. The family are of Greek heritage.
He said: ‘They were in charge of the media and propaganda for the group. They had higher roles.’
He added: ‘Some want to stay, but there are some who want to leave. It’s getting tougher and there are splits…about it’s future’.
Security expert Olivier Guitta, of consultancy firm GlobalStrat, added it was ‘very likely’ there was communication between terrorists in Syria and sources in the UK.
He told the Telegraph: ‘The UK has been at the top of the list for targets for jihadists since the intervention in Syria’.
In a telephone interview in March, Aristidou told Sky News that living under IS was like being in a ‘prison’ and he had gone into hiding. ‘I’m just trying to get my life back,’ he said.
‘So be it if I have to go to prison in order to do that. I’m prepared to do that. I’m not here to harm anybody, I’m just here to look after my family and live my life.’
The Turkish authorities are said to be seeking to jail him for up to 15 years. He could face further prosecution under anti-terrorism legislation if he returns to the UK.
Aristidou and Begum had a daughter while in Syria and it is understood mother and child are being kept in a detention centre awaiting deportation to the UK.
As reported by MailOnline Begum’s father Ahmed Ali, 47, said his daughter needs to face the law if she wants to return to England.
He said: ‘They have to face the law. The law will decide what punishment to give them. But, as a father, I’m saying everybody deserves a second chance. They’ve already damaged their lives.’