It is understandable — though quite illegal — why young British subjects attempting to fly to Syria via Turkey should be prevented unless they have a very good explanation of why they are not going to support the Islamic State.
It is also understandable — though quite illegal — why young British subjects returning from Syria are arrested and questioned as soon as they get off the plane.
The reason why the authorities are acting illegally, though quite acceptable to the general public and the press — and even by super-sensitive ‘human rights’ lawyers –is that most pro-Islamic State supporters are males who are well under 20 years of age and are still impressionistic — very much so in the case of the more intelligent ones. There have been a few exceptions where girls and mothers have been concerned, but almost all have been far from being mature adults which starts at about 30 years of age in the case of men and about 25 in the case of women.
We are told very little about these MI5 operations and one has to be a quite assiduous newshound to get any information. But as regards the first category what seems to be the picture is that, over the past two or three years, there have been about 850 adolescents and young men who went to Syria, presumably to support the Islamic State. Of these about 100 have been killed in fighting and 350 have returned and. after questioning by MI5, resumed their former life in England.
None of this happened in the case of those British volunteers who went to fight in the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939. They were free to come and go without question on the authority’s part, but none returned prematurely during the course of the war, unless injured. They stayed until the end. This suggests, in the current case, that those who have returned are at least nostalgic for their land of birth or, at most regretful at what they found in Syria. We may take it that many of the latter, disillusioned with Islamic State, will be persuading friends not to go.