In what is believed to be the first arrest of its kind in the UK, a man has been arrested for sending funds to his son who joined the Kurdish YPG to fight ISIS.
Paul Newey, 49, was arrested, his home in Solihull searched and electronic devices seized as police investigated links to his son Dan, who travelled to Syria in 2017 to volunteer with the YPG, known as the People’s Protection Units.
Mr Newey said he had sent his son £150 (Dh720), and was not aware that his son was back in Syria when he made the transfer.
Dan had returned from Syria in March 2018, but travelled back in October of this year when Turkish forces began their offensive in north-eastern Syria, a Kurdish-held area.
"I transfer money to him all the time, and I wanted to get him back on the road after all he's been through since he's been back," Mr Newey told The New York Times on Friday.
Mr Newey was held for four days after his December 11 arrest and released on bail. His younger son Sam was also questioned, along with Dan’s mother Vicki. Each interview lasted over 12 hours.
West Midlands police confirmed a 49-year-old man had been arrested under suspicion of funding and supporting terrorism and had been bailed.
The YPG has fought alongside western coalition forces against ISIS throughout the war in Syria and the UK does not designate the group as a terrorist entity. However, the Syrian group is allied with the Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which the UN and the UK deem a terrorist organisation.
Contacted by the Guardian in Syria, Dan Newey said he was concerned the arrest would set a precedent for other British fighters who joined the YPG.
"On the one hand Britain supports the YPG militarily as part of the international coalition and on the other hand it is actively persecuting people that have anything to do with it," he told The Guardian.
“I have no idea why [the police] have arrested my father and questioned my brother or mother. My actions are mine alone. Because they can’t get to me, they are targeting my family.”
So far, British authorities have only brought charges against people accused of funding designated terrorist groups, including ISIS members. Although judges have the power to hand down sentences of up to 14 years, in practice the punishments for sending small sums are much less severe.
In June, the parents of Jack Letts, branded ‘Jihadi Jack’ by British media, were found guilty of funding terrorism and given suspended prison sentences for sending Letts £223 (Dh1,010) in 2015 to help him escape Syria.