EDINBURGH (Sputnik), Mark Hirst – The UK Security Service should be doing more to intervene and prevent young Muslims from radicalization, Aamer Anwar, a human rights lawyer representing the family of teenager Aqsa Mahmood from Scotland who travelled to Syria to join Islamic State (ISIL) in November 2013 told Sputnik.
“If young people engage with [ISIL] and are in contact with Aqsa and others then surely it is imperative for the Security Services to get in contact with the families and intervene before it’s too late,” Anwar told Sputnik.
The lawyer was speaking after the Metropolitan Police in London confirmed Tuesday that three other teenage girls from London had followed Mahmood’s journey and had crossed into Syria around five days ago. Police have said there is evidence to suggest all three teenage girls had been in contact with Mahmood prior to leaving the UK.
“There has been a degree of frustration felt by the Mahmood family. In that they felt they were getting little or no information from the Security Service with regards to what their daughter was up to, what she was engaged in or whether she was recruiting or radicalizing other individuals,” Anwar said.
Anwar added that it could be difficult for the authorities to provide information of that kind if it had an impact on any other investigations, but said it was crucial for an enquiry.
“But it is important that when somebody’s child has gone missing, it is a missing person enquiry and of course the parents are anxious to know where they have gone or whether they are alive,” Anwar said.
The prominent human rights lawyer added that it was important to remain rational to fully understand what processes were motivating young people to leave the UK and travel to Syria to join ISIL.
“Sections of the media, almost like ISIS [ISIL], are guilty of reducing Aqsa Mahmood to a poster girl for ISIS because she ticks various boxes that lead to this mad hysterical reaction that is presently being engaged in dealing with ISIS, instead of stepping back and viewing it rationally because there are a number of issues at play here,” Anwar told Sputnik.
Mazhar Khan, Secretary of the Muslim Council of Scotland told Sputnik the issue of radicalization of individuals in the UK was not originating from so-called radical preachers or Mosques but through freely available social media platforms.
“The real issue here is, where are these people being radicalized from? As far as we can understand it is that there are no hate preachers or anybody like that operating in Scotland, instead it is happening through online activity,” Khan told Sputnik.
Khan said the government should act to challenge the trend.
“We have seen that these other young girls who have gone abroad were communicating through Twitter and this is something for the people who run these social media platforms to address as their applications are being used to indoctrinate people. This needs to be challenged and the Government needs to do if that is possible,” Khan added.
Last week, British police announced that three classmates had flown to Turkey aiming to join the Islamic State. London's Metropolitan Police said Tuesday it was believed that the girls reached Syria.