‘British Taliban’ capture in Helmand is a first
Two men with British nationality are said to have been caught fighting against UK forces
News that two British men have been arrested in Afghanistan on suspicion of fighting with the Taliban raises major political questions. There have been intercepts of radio chatter between insurgents with Brummie accents before, but never has a suspect been captured until now.
The story was broken today by the Sun. A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: "We can confirm that two British nationals have been detained in Afghanistan."
The Sun report claims the men were found in Afghan dress. As the paper notes, Afghanistan is not a holiday destination popular with UK tourists.
The paper also reports that the two men were suspected of specifically targeting British soldiers. If they are found to be British nationals, and guilty of fighting for the Taliban against fellow British soldiers, they could be charged with treason.
If Parliament had not broken up yesterday for the summer recess, it is probable the issue would be top of the political agenda alongside the Euro crisis.
As Crispin Black, the former Army Intelligence analyst who writes for The First Post on defence and security, puts it: "The justification for the British Army being in Afghanistan is to prevent terrorism occurring on the streets of Britain.
"If this is proof of Britain exporting terrorists to Helmand, then it supports the argument of those who argue that we have our own battles to fight at home."
The story is also ammunition for those politicians who claim that not enough it being done to prevent the radicalisation of young Muslims in Britain and for those who wish to see all British troops withdrawn from Helmand province much sooner than the latest UK government deadline of 2014.
The two men are being held for questioning at an unspecified military base in Afghanistan. The Foreign Office said British Embassy staff were "providing assistance". ·
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