Samira Shackle has an article on the Rationalist Association website, asking what risk British fighters in Syria pose on their return to Britain. It is a rather bland assessment, although not as irritating as attempts to portray such fighters as a latter day version of the International Brigades. Here is my reply to such sentiments:
It really is embarrassing seeing people compare British fighters in groups like ISIS or the al-Nusrah Front to those who fought fascism in Spain (a better comparison for the GB jihadis, in terms of both politics and perhaps competence, may be to the Irish Blueshirts who joined Franco).
Britons in jihadist organisations in Syria, like their predecessors who went to Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan and Bosnia, are not just fighting against something, but for something. And the 'for' bit of the equation is where any positive sides to this adventure collapse. The Britons reported in Syria are not to be found in nationalist or broadly secular groups, but in those fighting to establish the type of state established most recently by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Do these fighters pose a problem when they return? In security terms - yes. Prisons across the world are littered with veterans of similar jihads. We have just seen one veteran of the Bosnia Mujahideen, Londoner Babar Ahmad, plead guilty to terrorist offences in the US. There are plenty of others.
In broader social terms, the best outcome for community relations, women's rights and democracy in the UK is that most of these combatants do not come back. Sadly that is unrealistic, just as it is wishful thinking to hope all our fascists will one day ship themselves off to some of the Aryan dream lands trailed in the north western states of the US.
We are now in the third decade of a small number of Britons travelling to fight in Mujahideen type organisations, and it is indicative of the timid approach traditionally taken that this is in some way being portrayed as a new problem - it is not. The 7/7 bombings were arguably only possible because of the training two of the suicide bombers - Khan and Tanweer - received at the camps of 'freedom fighters' in Kashmir.
The gloves really should have come off then - with both Britons joining such camps, and those in this country who finance them. Now that seems to be changing - witness the arrests across the country of those returning from, or trying to travel to Syria, in recent months. We are going to see a lot more arrests, a lot more complaints of 'Islamophobia' and further desperate attempts (from useful idiots on the left as much as from Islamists) to portray jihadists as freedom fighters. Whenever you hear such claims, remember that these individuals are not just fighting against Assad, they are fighting for something. And unless you want to live in the seventh century, what they are for is as bad, or worse, as Assad's Syria.