British Effort Banks on Women to Halt Would-Be Fighters Bound for Syria

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
April 24, 2014, 10:32 a.m.

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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