Stop international terrorists preying on young British citizens
26 March 2015
The Home Affairs Committee of the House of Commons has published its final report, entitled 'Counter-terrorism: foreign fighters'.
- Communication between the police, schools and parents is in need of vast improvement. The police must engage in a regular and open dialogue with schools and community groups to ensure that information is exchanged and new initiatives can be explored at community level.
- There needs to be a service open to all, particularly targeted at parents who wish to seek advice or express concerns about a particular individual. This must be well publicised, and be a less extreme step than using the Anti-Terrorist Hotline. There is a fear of stigmatisation among communities and such a helpline could go some way in changing these attitudes.
- Where social media companies are given evidence that users of their services are seeking to promote violent extremism, they should take action to suspend these accounts, as they do where there is abuse or harassment of other users. Young people need to be equipped with the skills to become critical consumers of online content, in order to build a more natural resistance against radicalisation through online extremist content and propaganda. This is not just about counter-radicalisation: an informed, critical and questioning approach to online sources is a valuable asset in all aspects of a young person's social and intellectual development.
Preventing individuals from travelling abroad
- The Home Office should work with airlines which serve destinations of concern (DOCs) such as Syria, Somalia, Iraq and Nigeria to develop stricter controls for passengers travelling there.
- Where it becomes clear that individuals might already have left for Syria, the police need to work faster to alert overseas partners and airlines about them as they did in the case of the three young men from North London. Once people reach even countries like Turkey, it may be too late. No-fly lists should be strictly adhered to and shared internationally.
The Committee reiterated its previous recommendations in its past Counter-Terrorism report entitled: 17th Report - Counter-terrorism (May 2014).
Rt. Hon Keith Vaz MP, Chairman of the Committee, said:
"Radical groups from abroad are preying on young British citizens through social media to encourage them to travel abroad to join them. The number of cases being brought to public attention should ring alarm bells. Schools and the police must inform parents immediately, and work with them even if there is the smallest hint of radicalisation, or a close association with someone who is thought to have been radicalised. The lack of immediate action in the case of Amira Abase, Shamima Begum and Kadiza Sultana should be seen in contrast with the speed with which police worked to return the three young men from Brent. This is evidence of how vital it is to work closely with communities, families and international partners to tackle this growing threat. This must be a relentless battle for hearts and minds, and without a strong counter-narrative we are in danger of failing to prevent even more departures. We are at the edge of a cliff.
The Anti-Terrorist Hotline is the wrong name to give a phone line which is supposed to be used by worried parents if they believe their child, or a family member, may have been radicalised. At a local level, there are too many agencies, and most families simply do not know where to go if they have such concerns. A neutral advice line should be created and well-publicised, with information on how to get in touch made clear and readily available in every school and community groups in areas where there are fears of radicalisation.
At the check-in desk at airports and during exit checks, greater care should be taken with people travelling to destinations of concern (DOCs), such as Syria, Somalia, Iraq and Nigeria, as well as neighbouring countries, such as Turkey, which might be used as transit points to these destinations. Border Force must have a greater presence at departure points in the UK and spotters should be sent to these countries of concern to work with local enforcement agencies."
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