Panic alarms for Scots soldier who battled IS

Jamie Read, right, and James Hughes went to Syria to fight the Islamic State
Jamie Read, right, and James Hughes went to Syria to fight the Islamic State
Share this article
7
Have your say

Two ex-British soldiers who travelled to Syria to fight against the Islamic State have had panic alarms fitted to their homes upon their return for fear of ­reprisals from extremists.

Jamie Read, 24, who lives in Newmains, North Lanarkshire, and James Hughes, 26, from Worcestershire, revealed the heightened security around them since their return in their first television interview.

Mr Read had previously said his motivation for travelling to fight was the murder of aid volunteer Alan Henning and he ­explained in a TV interview he and Mr Hughes “felt compelled” to take up arms.

“I could not justify sitting back in the UK and watching IS pretty much do what they like,” he said.

Upon their return, the pair were detained at Heathrow airport and questioned for six hours, although they were not arrested and were released before their homes were placed under monitoring by counter-terror police.

CONNECT WITH THE SCOTSMAN

Subscribe to our daily newsletter (requires registration) and get the latest news, sport and business headlines delivered to your inbox every morning

• You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google +

Mr Read, who was previously briefly in the Duke of Lancaster’s regiment, said: “The counter-terrorism police have got our houses red-flagged in the sense of if any calls come out from that area, they will be straight to our house.

“We have got panic alarms fitted in both our houses now.”

Mr Hughes, who served three tours of Afghanistan with the army, added: “There’s patrols purposely put out in case said event would happen.”

On being held by police, Mr Read said they knew there was a risk but he felt their mission was a “humanitarian effort” and they also again denied claims they were “mercenaries”, saying they had come back to “a lot of debt”.

The pair also revealed they had resolved to take their own lives if they felt they could be captured by the militants, who were battling Kurdish forces to take control of the Syrian border town of Kobani.

“If at any one point we honestly, genuinely felt they were coming for us, ‘it’s definitely over’, if we had rounds on us, if we had weapons on us, then keep one for yourself,” Mr Read said.

“Nobody wants to get captured by IS, nobody wants to end up on YouTube getting their head cut off. Nobody wants that.

“As harsh as it sounds, it’s probably the better way to go.”

On the other side of the battle lines, official figures suggest more than 500 Britons have travelled to fight for IS in Syria and Iraq.

At the time the men left to join the fighting, the Home Office warned against all travel to the countries involved, saying anyone who did was putting themselves in “considerable danger”.

Taxi driver Mr Henning, 47, was killed by a masked militant known as Jihadi John in a video released online in October following similarly publicised ­killings.

IS has also posted a series of videos showing the separate murders of US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, US aid worker Peter Kassig and Scottish aid worker David Haines.

Footage appearing to show Mr Henning’s murder appeared on the internet days after the UK joined US-led air strikes against the terrorists in Iraq.

Mr Henning, from Salford, Greater Manchester, was kidnapped on Boxing Day 2013 while delivering aid for a charity.

Mr Read and Mr Hughes previously told how they were in a 20-strong “foreign legion,” which includes a German called Michael, a 60-year-old Canadian ex-Marine called Peter, and former US troops.

SCOTSMAN TABLET AND IPHONE APPS

• Download your free 30-day trial for our iPad, Android and Kindle apps

Keep up to date with all aspects of Scottish life with The Scotsman iPhone app, completely free to download and use