Meet 20-year-old Hamza al-Britani who left Birmingham for Syria in June last year. The British Pakistani told me via Skype how he caught a plane to Turkey and simply "jogged" over the border to "the land of jihad." A family friend of Hamza had arranged this interview so he could clear up misconceptions about jihad and ISIS...
To save lives and protect human rights, the genocidal fundamentalists of ISIS must be stopped. But not by the West and not for the reasons often advanced by David Cameron and Barack Obama... The truth is that if the US and UK are serious about fighting ISIS they should start by aiding the people on the ground who know the region best, have local roots and who are already leading the fight against the jihadist menace - the peshmerga army of the Kurdish regional government in Iraq and guerrillas from the Kurdistan Workers Party and allied movements in Syria.
Islamic State's blood-thirstiness has been much commented on, as has its use of modern technology. Posting videos of a man issuing threats before killing a hostage ... this is the "new normal" for Islamic State comms, but somehow it's exercised a strange power over many western commentators and politicians.
Air strikes alone won't defeat ISIL. The organisation is clearly goading the West into direct confrontation. Once we get the first pictures of Muslim women and children killed by US missiles, no matter how isolated these incidents would be, that would up the ante in ISIL's propaganda war. This is when allies like Saudi Arabia and Qatar will get cold feet.
Is it a crime to care for Gaza and Syria? Legally speaking, it isn't a crime to raise awareness of the human rights violations taking place, nor is it a crime to raise money and deliver humanitarian aid to those war-torn areas. Many non-Muslim human rights groups and charities engage in these actions, yet we do not hear of criminal prosecutions for their activism.