Reports that Abdullah Deghayes, an 18 year old from Brighton, had died in a gun battle in Syria led to renewed media panic about what they term British “jihadis”.
British security services have declared that young Muslims who go to fight in Syria might come back and carry out terrorist acts. Police have arrested at least 30 in connection with Syria so far this year.
Yet they don’t reflect on what has politicised such people in the first place.
Despite pleas from his family Abdullah had travelled to Syria to join those fighting the regime of president Bashar al-Assad.
Two of his brothers are also fighting there.
Abdullah’s uncle, Omar Deghayes was incarcerated in the US’s Guantanamo prison camp for five years. He was released without any charges in 2007.
During the family’s campaign for justice crowds shouting “terrorists” gathered outside their home. Their windows were broken four times and the police did nothing.
Omar said that his nephew went because “He couldn’t sit still watching the news of the gross injustice taking place in Syria.”
The fighters go to fight where Assad’s forces are on the offensive.
Assad’s forces have dropped barrel bombs on neighbourhoods in the city of Aleppo, a favoured method to crush resistance in residential areas.
Barrel bombs are a basic and indiscriminate weapon.
A large metal container is filled often with just rocks, and dropped from low flying helicopters.
Opposition fighters are helpless against air attacks as Assad knows they don’t have advanced enough anti-aircraft missiles to retaliate.
And the United Nations has warned that the 18,000 people left living in the Yarmouk refugee camp in south west Damascus are at risk of starving to death. Some report having to eat grass.
The camp was the biggest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria housing 180,000.
It was used by Assad to prove his credentials as a supporter of the Palestinian cause.
Assad’s term of office ends on 18 July. He has called an election in June intending to be elected for a third seven-year term and to claim a democratic mandate.
But with 9 million people internally displaced and 2 million having fled the country, no election can be credible.