Hundreds of Brits are believed to have travelled abroad to fight with ISIS and many of them are still believed to be claiming taxpayer-funded benefits. Experts believe jihadists have committed a number of high-level frauds to deliberately abuse the welfare system.
A government probe has now been launched to establish the extent of the dodgy benefit claims.
While a number of countries do have benefits agreements with the UK that allow British citizens to continue claiming state hand-outs, Iraq and Syria are not among them. But the DWP Fraud and Error Service has launched a series of reviews after people living in Iraq and Syria successfully pocketed UK benefits.
The claims – which run to an unknown sum – are alleged to have been made within the last three years.
It is the first time that the Whitehall department has admitted British taxpayer money has been fraudulently claimed by people living in the area.
Detective Chief Superintendent Terri Nicholson, the assistant commander at the Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism command unit, is certain that ISIS is abusing the UK’s lucrative benefit system to help finance terror. ‘We are seeing a diverse fraud, including substantial fraud online, abuse of the benefits system, abuse of student loans, in order to fund terrorism,’ she said.
Nicholson added that women were being used to smuggle welfare money out of Britain to fund terrorists abroad, because they supposedly arouse less suspicion.
The DWP has not revealed the extent of the benefit fraud for fear that it might damage or deter its investigation.
A freedom of information request was sent in March in a bid to access all the information the government holds on the subject. In response to the FOI request, the government said: ‘We can confirm that investigations have been carried out into claimants/customers fraudulently claiming benefits whilst allegedly living in Syria or Iraq.’
Professor Anthony Glees, one of the UK’s most respected intelligence analysts, branded the revelation ‘outrageous’.
Professor Glees, who is head of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies at the University of Buckingham, said:
The fact that taxes gained via hard-working families across the UK are going to these sadistic killers is nauseating.Other European countries have been forced to admit that they too have been stung in similar frauds.
In Denmark, it has been revealed that more than two dozen jihadists received unemployment benefits from the Danish government while fighting for Islamic State in Syria, totalling close to £500,000. Meanwhile, in Austria, police arrested 13 jihadists in November who were allegedly collecting welfare payments to pay for their trip to Syria.
A spokesperson for the DWP told MailOnline: ‘If police say that a person has left the country and they haven’t informed us then we will investigate. People have to inform us before they leave the country, otherwise we will investigate the matter. People who commit, plan and support acts of terror abroad and seek to return to the UK will be prosecuted.’