The few who are regarded as traitors by extremists

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There are very few Muslims in Britain's armed forces, and only a tiny number of them have seen action in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But these few are aware that their service would make them targets for radical Muslims at home who believe they have betrayed their religion.

Rahim served in Helmand and expects to go back. The 25-year-old is only too aware of the difficulties in marrying his religion to his duties to his country. "My relations and close mates know all about it, but with others I am simply not sure what the reaction is going to be," he said. "This is quite a new thing... But I know from speaking to other people, other Muslims, about the feelings regarding foreign policy."

When Lance Corporal Jabron Hashmi, who was born in Pakistan and raised in England, was killed in Afghanistan last year his family said he was a "hero of Islam". But Islamist websites described him as an "apostate" and "traitor".

Rahim, who is married with a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, said: "When you are out there you are worrying about yourself and also, of course, the effect it will have on my wife and kid if anything should happen to me. You also worry about your mates around you, because we have to look after each other. So this thing, of someone having a go at you because of the way they feel about the war, is just more pressure and can be pretty hard to handle."

Rahim, a corporal, said there are no formal procedures to discuss potential conflicts between his religion and his duty.

About the alleged plot to behead a Muslim soldier, he said: "That just makes me feel ashamed for some people who call themselves Muslims, also very sorry for this guy. I have my views about the Iraq war, and I'm not sure how I would feel about serving there."