Around 10 primary school pupils, aged between seven and ten, have been referred to a Government scheme to help combat the radicalization of youngsters.
One child was referred to the Channel Project, a national programme run by the police and Government, after shocking his teachers by writing on a school book: “I want to be a suicide bomber.” The Channel Project was set up in the wake of the 7th July terrorist attacks in London.It is operated by the Home Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers, and works with schools, Muslim communities, youth workers and social workers.
Teachers and parents are asked to look out for warning signs and police officers work alongside Muslim communities to identify impressionable children who are at risk of radicalization or who have shown an interest in extremist material, either on the internet or in books.
In June 2008 the project had identified 10 children at risk of being turned to violence. By March last year that figure had increased to 200. Currently around 230 young people, mostly men aged between 15-24, have been identified, many of them by their parents because they suddenly changed from wearing Western clothes to strict Islamic dress, or began expressing devout Islamic views.
The British Government has denied claims that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian charged with trying to set off a bomb on a US-bound plane on Christmas Day, was radicalized and recruited by al-Qaeda whilst a student in London. But files found by detectives are alleged to have shown that Abdulmutallab, 23, had ties to known Islamic radicals while an undergraduate at University College London between 2005 and 2008, where he was president of the Islamic Society.
Tactics used to turn youngsters away from extremism and integrate them into mainstream society include football coaching and outdoor adventure courses. UK TELEGRAPH