Anti-terror police appeal for women to dissuade men from going to Syria

Abdul Waheed Majid ENGSUS00120141202170549
Abdul Waheed Majid ENGSUS00120141202170549

Women are being urged to help prevent members of their families from travelling to Syria to either fight or offer aid.

Helen Ball, senior national co-ordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing, launched a national campaign today (April 24) aimed at protecting young people from the dangers of travelling to Syria.

The idea of the campaign is to encourage women to reach out to other women who are concerned about young people who may be planning to travel to Syria.

To support the campaign, a leaflet has been designed which outlines the risks of travelling to Syria and will be issued at ports across the country.

One of the key messages that emerged was the importance of letting people who genuinely want to help the Syrian cause know how they can do so safely and legally.

The number of people travelling to Syria from the UK is judged to be in the low hundreds and information shows the number of Syria-related arrests has 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.

The number of British men who have died in the conflict is around 20.

Among them was Crawley father-of-three Abdul Waheed Majeed, who was named the first British suicide bomber of the conflict after he was believed to have driven a lorry load of explosives into a prison and detonated it in February.

Ms Ball said: “We are increasingly concerned about the numbers of young people who have or are intending to travel to Syria to join the conflict.

“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.

“We want to inform those who wish to genuinely help the Syrian cause how they can do so safely and legally.”