Families fear more Portsmouth children will go to Syria

A damaged street in Aleppo, Syria
A damaged street in Aleppo, Syria

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THE family of a Portsmouth teenager who died in Syria says other parents are worried about children becoming radicalised.

The mother of Mehdi Hassan spoke to ITV News hours before his death last Friday.

She said that other families in the Portsmouth area are concerned that their children could also travel to the war-torn country.

‘People in the community are similarly as shocked as we are,’ she said. ‘Quite a few people who know me have come forward and said if Mehdi can do that, we don’t stand a chance with our children.

‘They say they have seen how I look after my children and how committed I was all along.’

The 19-year-old former pupil of St John’s College, in Southsea, went to Syria last October with a group who named themselves the ‘Britani Brigade Bangladeshi Bad Boys.’

As reported yesterday, he was killed fighting for the terrorist organisation Isil in the battle for Kurdish town Kobane.

Mr Hassan is the fourth jihadi from Portsmouth to be killed in Syria within the last year.

His mother said: ‘He was a loving, gentle, kind boy. Anybody who knows him and had a few minutes with him can never forget him for he is well-mannered.

‘It is just unbelievable.’

Before Mr Hassan travelled to Syria, his mum said he was sitting one A-level and had a lot of spare time.

She said the college told him he should study at home or in the library for his exam.

It was this spare time that gave him the chance to find other friends, she said.

‘He had free time and his usual friends were in sixth form college and they were obviously in full-time education,’ she said.

‘He found some other friends but he was 18 years old and I can’t just chase him around.

‘I knew he was out there, he had a few part-time jobs as well, but I had no reason to believe that he was thinking of that because it was just out of his character.

‘He would not abandon his family and just leave like that for whatever reason.’

Mr Hassan’s mother travelled to Turkey and was going to meet him at the border with Syria.

But with just eight minutes until he was supposed to reach the border, he was turned back.

She added: ‘In the beginning he definitely said he would come meet me in Turkey if I came.

‘But after three months he was saying it was complicated to meet me but maybe he could soon.

‘He was nervous about coming back to the UK. I get the impression he is saying “what life do I have in the UK?”. But there are also obstacles over there too.’