U.K. authorities are taking new steps — some focused on women — to prevent Britons from heading to Syria and partaking in the fighting there.
“We are increasingly concerned about about the numbers of young people who have or are intending to travel to Syria to join the conflict,” the New York Times quotes Helen Ball, a senior counterterrorism officer for the Metropolitan Police, as saying on Thursday. “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.”
Ball said the efforts aimed at encouraging individuals to share their concerns with authorities are not meant to “criminalize people,” but rather to “prevent tragedies.”
As part of the new campaign, officers plan to distribute leaflets at British ports warning of the risks of entering Syria, the Times reports. Officials will also advise individuals who want to offer humanitarian assistance in the three-year-old civil war against traveling to the country, asking them to donate to aid groups instead.
The British efforts come amid alarms bells being sounded recently by counterterrorism officials in the United States and several European governments. The officials fear that Western citizens joining combat in Syria will return to their home countries radicalized and trained in militant tactics.
Dutch Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk on Wednesday registered his country’s concerns to that end. Two Dutch nationals are believed to have carried out suicide attacks in Iraq and Syria, Reuters reported.
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Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.