The grandmother of a British man who was arrested on his return from war-torn Syria is calling on the British government to do more to support Kurdish forces.
Aiden Aslin was arrested at Heathrow Airport by Nottinghamshire Police last Wednesday, February 3, on suspicion of terrorism offences, and later released on bail pending further investigations.
The 22-year-old, of Newark, claimed he had been assisting the Kurdish YPG troops in the three-way Syrian conflict against ISIS and President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
The United Nations estimates that more than 250,000 people have died since the conflict began in 2011.
Pam Hall, Aiden’s grandmother, told the Post: “I think it’s quite shameful that he’s been arrested and has to report to the police three times a week.
“I think it’s unfair that they arrested him. He’s got a story to tell and Syrian people, and civilians in other Middle Eastern countries, need help.
“People have been so supportive. Every person has said how brave he was going – foolhardy in some respects – and I agree with that, but it’s something he believes in. He wanted to do his bit. He went for humanitarian reasons. He was allowed to go, and lucky that he survived.
“In no way am I saying others should go, but Aiden does not deserve to be treated like this because he did.”
Mrs Hall, 67, and also of Newark, said Aiden has been advised not to speak to any media directly until his case is resolved.
Mrs Hall joined Aiden and his mum Angela in Nottingham to visit the Wilford Hill Cemetery grave of Kosta Scurfield. Kosta, who also fought with the YPG, was the first Briton to die in the Syrian conflict.
Kosta’s mother Vasilki Scurfield joined Aiden and his family at Wilford Hill.
Aiden and Kosta were not friends, but their families became close through an internet group formed to discuss relatives travelling to fight with the YPG.
UK Air strikes are supporting the YPG but has not got a formal alliance with the Kurds.
The YPG is one of the “moderate” groups in the region, described by David Cameron when he made his case to Parliament to carry out air strikes in the region.
Mrs Hall added: “The YPG are doing a brilliant job but they don’t have the right weapons. If we are supporting them through air strikes, surely we can give them weapons to help them on the ground.
She also revealed that Aiden was a former doorman in Newark who had no previous military training. He had first aid experience from St John’s Ambulance and had worked in security at music events around the UK before he left for Syria.
“To my knowledge, he had never even held a weapon, even air rifles at the fair,” she said.
Robert Jenrick, MP for Newark, warned that the arrest could cause Aiden problems in the future.
He told the Post: “If it turns out that he isn’t charged and is completely innocent he could still be limited in the future. Countries like America have strict rules about visas and even if it goes no further that will stay on his record.
“Before he arrived I’d spoken to the Home Office about Aiden’s return and at no point was it said to me would be arrested. It was said that he would be questioned and I think the family is right to be disappointed.”
Last week, Mr Jenrick spoke in Parliament to raise his concerns about Aiden’s arrest.
“The point I was trying to make was that these individuals are going out to fight with our allies. We are conducting air strikes to support their work on the ground and allow individuals to go there.
“The Prime Minister, in his justification for air strikes, repeatedly described them [the YPG] as the moderate forces we will be working with.”
Nottinghamshire Police confirmed that Aiden was arrested on Wednesday, February 3. After questioning, he was released on Thursday, February 4 on bail.
Source: Nottingham Post