I have submitted the letter below to the Evening Standard, which should appear in todays edition. Back in January and February the Standard's letters page, and Channel 4 News (amongst others) featured a debate on to what extent our security is threatened by the Britons who have gone to join some of the rebel factions in Syria.
That discussion featured people like Asim Qureshi of Cage arguing we have nothing to fear from those taking up arms against Assad. Others compared the Syrian fighters to those who left these shores in the 1930s to fight fascism in the Spanish Civil War. As delegates at the G7 conference meet in Brussels to discuss (amongst other issues) the Syrian fighters, that is a position which looks silly:
Your leading article, Syrian Blowback, is timely. Last week saw not only the arrest in France of a returning jihadi for the alleged massacre in the Brussels Jewish Museum, but Stratford resident Mohommod Nawaz's guilty plea to smuggling ammunition into Dover on his return from Syria. There have been three convictions of Britons for travelling to Syria to attend camps, with more cases pending. The debate on this Letters page and elsewhere earlier this year that foreign fighters pose no threat to their home nations now looks fatuous.
The PM is in a tricky situation. With most Britons entering the conflict via Turkey, he needs to face the reality that a significant threat to our security is facilitated by a NATO ally. Yet Cameron himself gave succour to the Syrian rebels, seeking to intervene against Assad until public opinion forced him back. If he hopes for international action against travelling jihadis, he would do well to remember we are now in the third decade of a small number of British Sunni Muslims joining Mujahideen groups, with a disastrous effect on our security and community relations. What kept him?
Paul Stott, University of East Anglia.