YOU have to feel some sympathy for the family of Talha Asmal, the 17-year old from Dewsbury who apparently blew himself up in a suicide attack in Iraq after running away to join the Islamic State.
The same goes for the families of the three Dawood sisters from Bradford who have also run off to join ISIS, this time in Syria, apparently taking nine children into the war zone with them.
But let’s nail a few myths here. First up Asmal wasn’t an “innocent victim” of ISIS, as some apologists would have you believe.
In fact he became a terrorist. Although a young man, he was perfectly old enough to know right from wrong and he freely decided to join a nihilistic death cult which specialises in raping children, selling schoolgirls into sexual slavery and torturing and murdering innocent civilians.
ISIS don’t try to hide these atrocities but, in fact, boasts about them by frequently broadcasting graphic videos of terrible killings that would make any civilised person recoil in horror.
Asmal didn’t recoil – he chose to join ISIS and its murderous ideology. He went out to Iraq with the express intention of killing as many fellow Muslims as he could.
So yes, certainly have sympathy for his family who are obviously grieving, but the people we should really feel sorry for are the innocent Iraqis killed and maimed by Asmal’s suicide bombing operation.
The second myth to be dispelled is that this is all the fault of the police and security services. In recent days, the police have been blamed in some quarters for failing to keep tabs on Asmal and the Dawood sisters.
But sadly, there are want-to-be jihadis, and the police simply cannot track them all. Their own communities have to take some responsibility for preventing the radicalisation of young people.
I also take with a bucket full of salt the often repeated claim that the decision to run off to Syria came “out of the blue”.
Asmal was best friends with the brother of Britain’s youngest convicted terrorist and the Dawood sisters had previously tried to travel to Syria in March and were only prevented from flying by a security check.
Third myth – a favourite of the left this one – is that British foreign policy is to blame for driving young Muslims into the arms of the extremists.
The blood-soaked schism that cleaves Islam began at the Battle of the Camel in the year 656, and since then Shia and Sunni have spent the best part of 1,400 years killing each other.
It has got nothing to do with “British imperialism”, or Israel, or oil or anything Tony Blair said in 2003.
The sectarian violence we see in Muslim communities around the world, from Yemen, to Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the great regional rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia, are all just the latest franchises in a long-running Islamic civil war.
And although we in the West can look on in dismay at the pitiless barbarity of these conflicts, there is, in fact, very little we can do to persuade Muslims to be more tolerant towards one another.
Princess of thrift sets recycling trend
SOMETIMES the Royals can’t win, can they? Spend a fortune on a glamorous outfit and you are slammed for extravagance. But recycle something you’ve worn before and you are characterised as a miser.
Perhaps Princess Anne is thinking along these lines after she made headlines this week by sporting an outfit at Royal Ascot that she first wore 35 years ago. Fashion pundits say the Princess has regularly recycled the silk print dress and caramel coloured coat since its first appearance at the Trooping of the Colour in 1980.
This incident tells us three things; first Anne is indeed the first princess of frugality – good for her!
Second, certain classic (and usually expensive) designs never date despite the vagaries of fashion; and third Princess Anne has looked after herself so well that at a trim 64 she can comfortably fit into clothes that she bought as a 29-year-old.
Not a lot of people can say that.