PM warns of risk to Britain from Somali radicals

Cameron appeals for help dealing with young people whose minds have been 'poisoned'

David Cameron will warn today that Britain faces a growing security threat from Somali-born youngsters who have been "poisoned by radicalism", as he calls for a fresh drive to rescue the east African state from the grip of terrorists and pirates.

The Prime Minister will host an international conference this week on Somalia, which will be attended by representatives of more than 50 governments and international organisations, including the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon.

Mr Cameron will meet Somali community leaders in this country today to appeal for their help in the fight against terrorism here and in the struggle to bring stability and peace to their trouble-torn homeland.

Up to 50 Britons are believed to be fighting for al-Shabaab, the militant group linked to al-Qa'ida which controls much of the centre and south of Somalia. Intelligence sources fear that they could return with the expertise to launch terror attacks in the UK.

Speaking ahead of today's meeting, Mr Cameron said it was in both Britain's and Somalia's interests to bear down on terrorism and to create a political settlement in their homeland. He dismissed suggestions that Somalia's problems were simply too difficult to tackle.

"The threat to our national security is growing. Young British minds are being poisoned by radicalism," he said. "The problems in Somalia can only ultimately be solved by the people of Somalia. But our national interest is clear: we can't just let all this carry on."

Mr Cameron said: "There are many Somalis who have made their home in this country. We can't build peace without them. My message is this: Don't go back and fight. Help your homeland by doing all you can to back the political process and to build the rule of law."

Somalia has been ripped apart by civil war for the past 20 years, with the central government now only able to exert its control over small parts of the country. Ethiopian and Kenyan troops have intervened to prevent Islamist-inspired violence crossing the border.

As the rival military groups have fought each other for supremacy, the country has been hit by a massive humanitarian crisis, with up to 100,000 people starving to death last year. The power vacuum has also allowed groups of Somalian pirates to disrupt international trade as they roam off the east African coast.

However, Britain believes that there are now a few glimmers of light showing following a political agreement this weekend among Somali leaders. Key Somali leaders have signed a plan to try to end the country's two-decade-long political crisis. Britain will hope to build on that agreement on Thursday at the London conference, although no invitation has been issued to al-Shabaab.

William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, said that there was now "a moment of opportunity because things have improved a little in Somalia". Mr Hague suggested that the conference could agree to strengthen the political process in Somalia, boost the strength of African Union forces and agree on ways of combating the problems of terrorism and piracy.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Ecommerce Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity is available to ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This world leading specialist i...

Recruitment Genius: Regional Support Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This role's responsibility also include operat...

Recruitment Genius: Field Engineer - Northern Home Counties

£27000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Their revenue and profit have g...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy