The mother of a young British jihadist who returned from Syria has appealed for support from the government, claiming her son is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Independent reports that the woman, who converted to Islam along with her son two years ago, travelled to Turkey to collect him after he became disillusioned with Islamic State. She says that he has now rejected terrorism, but said others who have returned from Syria could be “walking time bombs” unless the British government offers them assistance.
The woman, who is identified only by her first name, Linda, claims that since her son returned from fighting with the jihadists he has found it difficult to re-enter British society. Speaking to the BBC’s Inside Out London programme, she said: “It’s been difficult for him to go through that experience and then rejoin society.
“When he came back he had nightmares and he’d sometimes wake up sweating and sort of reliving the traumas and feeling like he was still there. He would have sudden flashbacks in the daytime, so his mood would change very suddenly.”
Islamic State and other Jihadi groups have been spreading terror in Syria and Iraq, with widespread reports of brutal executions and the strict enforcement of Islamic law. However, Linda suggested that her son was himself a victim of terrorism, claiming: “He was in a war zone where people were being killed, people were experiencing horrific things. He himself got wounded. I can see that sometimes he is physically traumatised by things and I don’t know exactly what they are and I feel quite helpless. I think that he may have post-traumatic stress disorder.”
Referring to the recent attacks in Paris, Linda added: “It is scary times when things like this can happen. It is quite worrying that there’s all these young men returning from these situations and I think that without the right provisions and right care, we could be risking an incident like what happened in France. We do as a society need to address these issues.”
The government estimates that around 300 jihadists have returned from Syria, with MI5 claiming they pose a significant threat to national security. However, only six men have so far been convicted of terror offences after returning from waging jihad.
Last year, Prime Minister David Cameron unveiled a raft of new measures to combat the problem of British Muslims travelling to fight with Islamic State and other jihadi groups in Syria, including plans to seize the passports of British jihadists and stop them from returning from overseas.
Under the measures, individuals who travel abroad to wage jihad would be banned from re-entering the country for at least two years unless they comply with strict measures to monitor their movements and attend de-radicalisation courses.
However, Linda claims that the government is aware that her son has returned from Syria but has done nothing. Instead of punishing him, though, she wants to government to offer him “support”.
“Everyone has been informed and nobody’s been forthcoming with any kind of offer of support. I went to various places to get him help but they’ve just said, ‘you know, there’s nothing we can do,'” she said.
When asked if her son deserves any sympathy, given the brutal group he has been fighting with, she insisted that he does not pose any danger to British society.
“He no longer agrees with terrorism. What worries me is the situation as a whole. Those kids who return and don’t have supportive parents like me.”