Muslim children in the UK under ten are being turned into ‘junior jihadis’ as extremists bombard them with dangerous propaganda, London’s deputy mayor warned today. Stephen Greenhalgh revealed he and Boris Johnson have both been briefed about radicalized primary school pupils as fears grow extremists are using the capital to spread hate.
UK Daily Mail His stark comments came ahead of a private meeting with police commissioners from across Britain to discuss the alarming spread in Iraq and Syria of the militant group Isis. ‘Some of them are very young,’ he told the Evening Standard. ‘We are talking about under the age of ten. ‘It starts very young with them being subjected to propaganda, extremist ideology (often in the mosque) , and being trained to be junior jihadis.
‘It’s pretty horrendous when you hear how some of these children are being radicalized. The threat of radicalization of young people is real and this is a problem that is going to be with us not just for a couple of years, but for the next generation.’ Tory Mr Greenhalgh, 47, is the politician in charge of London’s policing and crime.
His comments came ahead of a private meeting today with police and crime commissioners from Britain’s largest cities to discuss the growing threat of Islamic extremism. According to the Standard, those attending included the police commissioners for Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds alongside Scotland Yard’s former counter-terrorism chief Commander Helen Ball.
The Home Office already fears around 500 Britons have left the country to fight with extremist groups in Iraq and Syria, some of them still in school. In July it emerged 16-year-old star college pupils Salma and Zahra Halane, from Chorlton, Manchester, had abandoned their homes to fly to the rapidly expanding warzone.
Youths in parts of east London, which has the combination of a large Muslim population and high deprivation and unemployment, are feared to be particularly vulnerable to hate preachers. Today a think tank said there was a real and present danger of some of those fighting in Iraq and Syria carrying out terrorist bombings when they returned home.
The Henry Jackson Society, whose previous supporters have included the former education secretary Michael Gove, said the odds of a ‘blowback’ attack should not be underestimated.
Between 1999 and 2010, it said, 19 per cent of all terrorists had received foreign training – but this figure rose to 41 per cent for those directly involved in the eight major bomb plots on Western soil. ‘At least 500 British Muslims have travelled to Syria,’ it said, ‘with up to 300 already back on British soil.’
At least 500 British Muslims have travelled to Syria,’ it said, ‘with up to 300 already back on British soil.’
The report added: ‘For almost three decades, small numbers of British Muslims have fought for Islamist terrorist groups abroad and/or travelled to foreign conflict zones and ungoverned spaces to receive training from terrorist groups, most notably al-Qaeda-affiliated training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
A row erupted last month after a black flag said to resemble that of Islamic State was hoisted over the gates of a housing estate in Poplar, east London – only to be torn down by a furious nun. Sister Christine Frost, 77, a nun who works at a nearby church, used a stepladder to remove the flag out of fear it could be seen as ‘aggressive’ or ‘insensitive’.
The flag had been raised next to others calling for Palestinian freedom, but anti-extremist campaigners said the raising of the black flag was a ‘provocative’ act and undermined legitimate anger about last month’s violence in Gaza.
Islamic State militants have swept through huge tracts of Iraq and Syria, taking authorities by surprise and enforcing an extreme interpretation of Sharia law under their version of Sunni Islam.