Computer game makers may hold the key to stopping young Muslims being radicalised online, according to the former reviewer of UK anti-terrorism legislation. Lord Carlile is urging ministers to work with people who “create games on the internet” to stop the flow of British teenagers fleeing to foreign battlefields to fight for Islamic state (IS).
The Liberal Democrat peer said it was essential to “fight fire with the same sort of fire” by tackling radicalisation through creating a competing online narrative. He was speaking in the immediate aftermath of reports that a 17-year-old from Dewsbury, identified as Talha Asmal, is believed to have become Britain’s youngest ever suicide bomber after blowing himself up in Iraq.
Hassan is the younger brother of Hammaad Munshi. He became Britain’s youngest convicted terrorist following his 2006 arrest at the age of 15 over his role in a plot to murder non-Muslims. Both are grandsons of prominent Islamic scholar Yakub Munshi.
Speaking on BBC Radio Four’s Today programme after Mr Asmal’s death, Lord Carlile urged the government to join computer programmers to counter the online propaganda from IS.
“It’s hard to counter, but one has does have to use the same tools, the same thought processes, that do radicalise people,” said Lord Carlile, independent reviewer of terrorism legislation from 2001 to 2008.
He added: “The government must sit down with the best brains who, for example, create games on the internet, who write programme for the Internet, and they must try and produce the same methods to show that the good guys sometimes win.
“That being radicalised and going to fight for Isil is actually a ghastly thing to do, that it destroys families, that actually happiness can be obtained by having an ordinary British life.”
Lord Carlile added: “We’re talking mostly about very bright young men and women and I believe that they are persuadable but one has to fight fire with the same sort of fire.”
Social media reports linked to IS identified Mr Asmal, going by the name of Abu Yusuf al-Britain, as having taken part in the attack. Breitbart London has revealed his links to the ‘Army of Darkness’ mega mosque.
A statement issued by Asmal’s family said: “Talha was a loving, kind, caring and affable teenager.
“He never harboured any ill will against anybody nor did he ever exhibit any violent, extreme or radical views of any kind.
“Talha’s tender years and naivety were it seems however exploited by persons unknown who, hiding behind the anonymity of the world wide web, targeted and befriended Talha and engaged in a process of deliberate and calculated grooming of him.
“Whilst there it appears that Talha fell under the spell of individuals who continued to prey on his innocence and vulnerability to the point where if the press reports are accurate he was ordered to his death by so-called Isil handlers and leaders too cowardly to do their own dirty work.
“We are all naturally utterly devastated and heartbroken by the unspeakable tragedy that now appears to have befallen us.”