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  1. #1
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Foreign Fighters: preventative action (UK mainly)

    Moderators Note: Title changed today from 'May 1940 Dad's Army, April 2014 Mum's Army' to 'Foreign Fighters: preventative action (UK mainly)' (ends).


    There is a long running thread on UK CT, but today CT took a new twist. Which is neatly labelled 'safeguarding'.

    Historical passage to explain the title. Following our defeat in France in May 1940 a volunteer local defence force was created, popularly known after a BBC comedy series as 'Dad's Army'.

    One headline 'Syria crisis: stop your sons joining war, urges Met police' from The Guardian:http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2...olitan-police?

    On the BBC the senior UK CT police officer was interviewed, along with a critic, Keith Vaz MP (6 mins):http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-27137743

    From one report her comments:
    We want to ensure that people, particularly women, who are concerned about their loved ones are given enough information about what they can do to prevent this from happening. We want to increase their confidence in the police and partners to encourage them to come forward so that we can intervene and help. This is not about criminalising people. It is about preventing tragedies.
    Keith Vaz, whose Select Committee is looking at CT:
    There is no evidence that families know. Young people are just leaving without telling families and their families are the last to know...The evidence we received is that the police don't know how to stop this.
    A view from the "grass roots" by a respected youth worker in Birmingham:
    Atif Iqbal, of the United Birmingham campaign, who travelled to Syria to deliver food, said clarity was needed about how people could provide humanitarian help while staying within the law. "What is the legal framework – that is what we need some clarity on. It's very ambiguous, the goalposts keep changing,"...
    The Daily Telegraph has a similar story:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...jihadists.html

    The Quilliam Foundation is supportive, but calls for more efforts:http://www.quilliamfoundation.org/pr...ight-in-syria/

    How will Muslim mothers react? That is to the say the least very unclear. The media often rely on very little known women to speak, so the BBC has one who is critical:
    ..there was so much mistrust of the police in her community that many people would be too afraid to report friends and family to authorities.
    Link to short video clip:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-27137889
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-09-2014 at 02:53 PM. Reason: Add note
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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Part 2

    Some official context:
    The number of people travelling to Syria from the UK is judged to be in the low hundreds and available information shows that the number of Syria-related arrests increased substantially in 2014. The figure for the whole of 2013 was approximately 25 yet for the first three months of 2014 alone it is approximately 40.

    Since January five people from Birmingham have been charged with Syrian-related offences and are currently awaiting trial.
    Link:http://www.west-midlands.police.uk/l...ws.aspx?id=729

    The main, eight page publication:http://www.west-midlands.police.uk/d...t_04.04.14.pdf
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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Part 3

    A BBC reporter, Catrin Nye, who specialises in reporting on the UK Asian scene, tweeted today:
    Just spoke to Brit Muslim currently fighting in Syria, he says family didn't know he was going, not even his mother could have stopped him.
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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Part 4

    A "lurker" has responded, based on their "hands on" experience in IW and knowledge of Syria:
    Opportunities:

    - Syria is not a Western occupation, and it is difficult to paint it as such. The most convincing way of directing ire towards the west in relation to the situation in Syria is to accuse Washington, London etc of "doing nothing"
    - Syrians dont like ISIS. This means potential volunteers, find it difficult to avoid the reality that the Muslim v. West narrative is overly simplistic
    - The sectarian nature of the Syrian war is unavoidable, so it is difficult for extremists to maintain traction for the "Muslims vs West" narrative. or, at least harder than it is when it comes to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq etc


    Challenges:


    - Scant knowledge amongst volunteers of Syria's political, social or cultural context. ie. it is easier to paint the conflict as whatever you want - for a period of time, at least
    - The rise of "doomsday prophecies" around the conflict. (ie that its part of a long foretold religious prediction about the coming of the mehdi/jesus) and heralds the end of the world. Both the Iranians and AQ are using this according to their (slightly) differing religious traditions.
    - Fighting in Syria can be seen by volunteers as a duty that does not contradict their loyalty to the UK. This means that UK government efforts to stop them then become seen as a sinister plot to stop them helping Syrians. (Such conspiracies already exist amongst Syrians who believe the only explanation for the lack of military support is due to the West's desire to keep a weak dictator in place so that Israel is not challenged as the regional power)
    - Extremely limited trust in HMG following Iraq (and domestic trust scandals)
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    Default A Canadian mother who didn't know

    A taster for this Calgary, Canada mother's journey
    His mother, Christianne Boudreau, noticed the change as well. The year before her son left, he became secretive and argumentative. He peddled 9/11 conspiracy theories and said the media weren’t telling the truth about what was happening to Muslims around the world. “He would get pretty worked up about it and conversations could get pretty heated,” she said. He started working out at the gym and would go on hikes with his prayer group. But Mrs. Boudreau thought it was just his nature to immerse himself in his interests. “Certain things, he’d get really zestful about,” she said. “And then he’d get bored and move on to the next thing."


    When her son told her he would be travelling to Egypt to study Arabic, Mrs. Boudreau never thought he’d actually go through with it. He was always a big talker. The night before he was supposed to leave, in November 2012, the family went out for dinner and he came back to her townhouse and played video games with his little brother. He seemed relaxed and happy-go-lucky. Only when he called from the plane in the morning did she realize he was actually going to do it...I had no idea,” Mrs. Boudreau said.

    Link:http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/04...dead-in-syria/
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    Default So what can Muslim women say to loved ones?

    A column by a British Muslim activist:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/wom...-early-on.html
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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default First UK fighter in Syria convicted: a liar and a fantasist

    A strange case and one wonders if the threat at home is real. The BBC's detailed commentary opens with:
    A Portsmouth man accused of trying to join Islamist fighters in Syria has become the first person in the UK to be convicted of a terrorist offence relating to the conflict. A jury at Kingston Crown Court found Mashudur Choudhury guilty of preparing for acts of terrorism after a two-week trial. But what exactly was Choudhury up to - and why does this conviction matter?

    If there is one thing that is true about Mashudur Choudhury, it is that he is a liar and a fantasist.
    Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-27491066 and http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-27488006

    I note his conviction is for:
    ...engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts....The court heard he had travelled to Syria to attend a terrorist training camp. He was arrested at Gatwick Airport on his return to the UK......Prosecutors at the trial said Choudhury had wanted to be trained in the use of firearms and intended to pursue a "political, religious or ideological cause".
    One wonders if a conviction can be secured if someone claims their fight was to protect the civilian population.

    The later BBC report asks:
    The outcome also raises another question: what will happen to the large numbers of British men still in Syria? Will these men ever come back?
    Yesterday I caught part of an excellent WoTR online discussion and Shiraz Maher, of ICSR, stated that two hundred and fifty "fighters" had already returned to the UK. I will listen again this evening:http://warontherocks.com/2014/05/the...aeda-and-isis/

    Background on SWC

    There are two recent, relevant threads Today's Wild Geese: Foreign Fighters in the GWOT and a smaller one Foreign fighters in Syria: a crime minus a motive?
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-09-2014 at 02:36 PM. Reason: Merged to here, was in a two post thread
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    Default Legal or illegal to fight in Syria

    A fascinating glimpse into the "shades of grey" over the legality and illegality of fighting in Syria, for UK nationals / residents. Under the headline:
    Syria conflict: British jihadists are nothing like the freedom fighters of the Spanish Civil War
    Prosecutorial discretion:
    For example, let’s imagine a Briton is visiting family in Syria and the neighbourhood comes under attack by regime forces, or indeed rebel ones. If said Briton were to subsequently use weapons to help defend family members or other innocent people, he would not necessarily be prosecuted in the UK. However, those who join terrorism-linked groups and proactively engage in militant activity are far likelier to be prosecuted.
    Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...Civil-War.html

    I suspect discretion was used when many exiles returned to Libya, to my knowledge no-one was arrested.
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    Default Sharia as a platform for jihad in Britain

    "The significant support for sharia among the younger generation of British Muslims and the spreading of Wahhabism in the United Kingdom has two consequences: One, clerics find themselves in an influential role as the primary interpreters of sharia, and two, many young Muslims are exposed to the idea of armed jihad through their local mosques. As a result, local jihadist clerics such as Sheikh Abdullah el-Faisal and foreign- based ones such as Anwar Al-Awlaki (now deceased) were able to reach out and encourage young Britons into waging armed jihad."

    http://www.albanygovernmentlawreview...sue=2&page=347

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default The Danish way

    A short UK C4 News report on the Danish approach when fighters return home:http://www.channel4.com/news/can-ret...d-into-society

    The C4 News website does not have the relevant video clip.

    A police officer's explanation:
    Everybody is in agreement, early prevention of terrorism is needed. And so we start out with dialogue. We screen each fighter, we assess their needs. We engage with their families and friends, and their mosque, so that they have a well-functioning network around them. This can reduce the risk of them being further radicalised....There is always a risk but the flaw would be to apply tough measures to soft targets, people who are not that radicalised. We believe there are fighres we can still turn around. If you apply harsh measures to them it would be counter-productive, because you risk producing the very violent extremists you are trying to prevent.
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    Default

    A short comprehensive review, the title says it all 'British Jihadis in Iraq and Syria: How should we deal with them when they come home?', in The Independent (UK) newspaper:http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk...e-9771290.html

    The sub-title explains more 'While there is broad consensus that those who pose a threat to national security should be dealt with, many experts argue that not all of the Britons in Syria and Iraq are trained fighters and terrorists'.

    Here is one passage on the dilemma for the state:
    Worryingly, the government strategy for dealing with returnees appears generalised, untargeted, fragmented and draconian. ...But it is feared that such measures will serve only to send the more moderate returnees, who might otherwise become assets for intelligence services, underground.
    For reasons lost on me the UK's 'Prevent' strategy and the cited Channel Project are often praised by officialdom and those abroad. Sadly it has very little credibility where it matters, which is not inside government, but amongst those who need help - not exclusively Muslims either.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Coming home: nuance needed

    Rachel Briggs, who has long been thinking on the 'Prevent' issues, has a blog comment 'We need a more nuanced approach for dealing with british jihadists who want to come home':http://rachelbriggs.wordpress.com/20...-to-come-home/

    She starts with:
    There are growing reports that British jihadis fighting in Syria want to come home; it has been claimed that dozens are trapped in Syria unable to leave, and up to 100 are stranded in Turkey having made it out of Syria, but worried or unable to come back to the UK.
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    Default

    David,

    In your estimation, how much of this is the direct appeal of jihad or Islamism, and how much of it is the appeal of adventure, etc for young men? The 20th century alone is replete with young men joining foreign causes (IDF, French Foreign Legion, Spanish Civil War, South Africa, Nazi SS, etc). It seems to me like there are many who went abroad looking for that kind of experience, only to become disillusioned either with war, ISIS, or some combination in between. What are your thoughts?
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

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