Don’t let the terrorists radicalise our kids

Another young man, 22 year-old Jabed Hussain from Acton in London, has been convicted for trying to join Daesh. He was arrested on the border with Syria, brought back to London and will now spend a long stretch in prison. What a waste of a life.

Husain is beyond any help now but his story should remind us all of the importance of getting to young people before Daesh does. Every week, we are out in the community doing outreach at local mosques trying to find those vulnerable individuals who might be thinking of joining Daesh.

In our experience, they can be suffering from any number of underlying problems. Maybe they can’t find a job or they have a miserable home life. Often there are issues around substance or alcohol abuse. The family might have a history of mental health problems or confidence levels have been crushed. It’s when these young people are at their lowest ebb that a radicalising voice can break through.

When they’re weak and depressed, a door opens in their mind. Experts call it a “cognitive opening”. It gives the terrorists and extremists an opportunity to poison their mind with a violent ideology. Suddenly, they imagine they’ve got a purpose in life, something that will validate their existence.

I always quote the unfortunate soul who said to me: I  haven’t lived well, Mo, but I can die well.

With a distorted and simplistic view of Islam and their heads muddled with drugs or booze, they start a journey that can end up in the killing fields of Syria or Iraq. Husain changed his name as many of them do to give themselves a bit of jihadi star quality. Now they feel big and important but in reality, they’re just pawns for Daesh to move to the frontline as the going gets tough.

Sparkbrook, where Kikit has its drop-in centre, has seen its fair share of terrorist convictions. We know how real this problem is and it saddens me to see yet another young Muslim wreck his life in this stupid way. But we’re determined to bring hope and a pathway from terrorism. Here at Kikit we tackle those underlying problems then give these youngsters a proper grounding in Islam.

So if you know somebody who you think might be in trouble or you need to reach out for a helping hand – don’t delay. Get on the phone to us or walk into the centre. We’ve seen it all before. We’re here to help. Our staff have been through the wars, so to speak, and come out the other side. They can help you do likewise.

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