Briton Syria
Waheed Ahmed was among nine British citizens, including 4 children, who were detained in Turkey's southern provinces of Hatay and Gaziantep as authorities foiled their alleged attempts to enter Syria illegally. Getty Images

Friends of Waheed Ahmed have said that they had been concerned about a change in the 21-year-old's behaviour in recent months.

The son of Labour councillor Shakil Ahmed, Waheed was among nine members of the same family who were allegedly trying to illegally cross into Syria.

They were stopped at a military outpost where they were arrested by Turkish military on 25 March and are set to be deported at the weekend.

As police officers attempt to establish their reasons for travelling to the Syrian border, people who knew Shakil have offered their insights into his behaviour.

If I thought for a second that he (Waheed) was in danger of being radicalised, I would have reported him to the authorities.
- Shakil Ahmed

Mohammed Shafiq, who is a friend of his father, said: "There were concerns in the last six months to a year about a change in his (Waheed's) behaviour. And a change in his attitude towards various different issues. That was causing concern for people in the community and his family."

Usman Nawaz, who went to the same school as Waheed Ahmed in Rochdale, said his actions were not inspired by teachings in the mosques in the UK. "For some it's an adventure but for some they think that they are doing something noble. The ideology which is peddled, this very hardcore understanding of the faith, one which is state sponsored by Saudi Arabia, that has to be challenged and it's quite difficult to challenge it in a coherent manner when the Saudi ideology has the backing of petrodollars."

Another friend Bassat Yussu, said he believed Waheed may have been motivated to head to Syria for entirely humanitarian reasons.

"We used to talk about Palestine and Syria and what was going on around there and sometimes he used to collect charity money," he said.

British police have been searching the home of his father Shakil Ahmed. The councillor who represents the Kingsway ward in Rochdale, said he had thought his son was on a work placement in Birmingham.

"My son is a good Muslim and his loyalties belong to Britain, so I don't understand what he's doing there. If I thought for a second that he was in danger of being radicalised, I would have reported him to the authorities. I just want to speak to my son and get him home as soon as possible so I can find out what's going on."

Waheed was travelling with his aunt, two cousins, and the wife of one of his cousins. They had taken four of their children with them, aged one, three, eight and 11 sparking concerns about why they were taking children into Syria.

Assistant Chief Constable Ian Wiggett said: "What is obviously concerning is why a family were seemingly attempting to take very young and vulnerable children into a war zone. Such a volatile and dangerous environment is no place for them whatsoever."

The Metropolitan Police believe around 600 Britons have travelled to Syria and Iraq since the conflict began, while around half are thought to have returned to the UK. GMP chief constable Sir Peter Fahy previously said there was a "huge concern" about Britons arriving back in the UK after fighting in Syria.