Two European journalists were kidnapped by up to 100 Islamist fighters in Syria, all of them were foreign and around 40% of them spoke English.
Via The Telegraph:
The Foreign Office is investigating reports that British citizens are among Islamist fighters who kidnapped a British photographer and his Dutch colleague in northern Syria.
John Cantlie and Dutchman Jeroen Oerlemans were held by the group for a week after they accidentally came across their camp while crossing the border from south east Turkey to report on the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.
During their time in captivity they were threatened with death unless they converted to Islam, and both were shot and slightly wounded when they attempted to flee barefoot. They were freed on Thursday night after a group of Free Syrian Army soldiers turned up the camp and angrily demanded that they be released.
Mr Cantlie has not yet spoken of his ordeal, but Mr Oerlemans told Dutch media that some of the gang, which is reported to have been between 30 and 100 strong, had “Birmingham accents”.
A source close to the incident told The Sunday Telegraph that there possibly at least six men with British-sounding voices, including one with a heavy south London accent.
“Nobody is quite sure yet how many, but these people generally travel in small groups of about half a dozen,” the source said.
The camp members also reportedly included people from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Chechnya, with no Syrians present. The source added that “round 40 per cent” of them apparently spoke English, although it was not clear what nationalities they were.
The possibility of British nationals or residents being present among the group will be of concern to the Government, which has done much in recent years to try to stop British-born Asians and Arabs enlisting with foreign jihadist movements.
The reports come amid growing concern that groups of Sunni extremists and al-Qaeda factions are attempting to join the rebel movement in Syria.
Speaking to Dutch media, Mr Oerlemans said that he and Mr Cantlie spent much of their time blindfolded. He told the NRC Handelsblatt newspaper: “One of the black jihadists freaked out and shouted: ‘These are journalists and now they will see we are preparing an international jihad in this place.’”
The group accused them of being spies, and considered holding them for ransom, said Mr Oerlemans. He added: “As soon as Assad has fallen, these fighters want to introduce Islamic law, Sharia, in Syria.”