DAWN By Our Special Correspondent
Monday, 18 May, 2009
LONDON, May 17: TheSunday Times has come out with an unbelievable story of a 15-year-old who is said to have claimed that he and about 50 teenagers were recruited by Al Qaeda-inspired extremists and encouraged to travel to Pakistan to be groomed to carry out suicide attacks in Britain.
In what is called the first insider account of how radicals are preying on vulnerable Muslim youths, the teenager of Algerian descent is said to have disclosed how boys of his age group are being approached by Islamists at a mosque in south London that was used by the failed 21/7 bombers, and indoctrinated at a secret network of squats.
He was the youngest of about 50 recruits who were shown “martyrdom” videos and encouraged to travel to Pakistan to receive terrorist training.
The youth, who is called Adam, told The Sunday Times: “They showed us a jihadist video with the martyrdom flags behind the guy speaking, and the message I got was that I should prepare myself for martyrdom.
“I know a few of the others accepted that they would go (for training in Pakistan). Some of the young people said, ‘I’m going to go.’ That was the ultimate purpose of what these men were doing: what they were doing was training people up to carry out operations in the UK.”
Adam, who is now 18, quit the group after a year. The whereabouts of most of the other recruits is unknown.
“It was quite shocking to me,” he said. “I started to think, ‘well, hold on a second, I don’t want to kill anybody. Yeah, I’ve got anger inside me, but this isn’t the right way to deal with this’.”
Adam, whose real name is being withheld to protect his safety, is now enrolled in a rehabilitation programme for would-be terrorists.
When Adam fell under the spell of extremists at the Stockwell mosque in Lambeth in 2005, he was floundering at school, had few friends and was desperately in need of some direction.
He was the eldest of seven children whose Algerian father had died when he was just eight, and his new friends’ talk of Muslim brotherhood seemed to offer the stability he craved.
“A lot of people think that terrorists are recruited in special recruiting grounds, but the truth is that it actually goes on in mosques a lot of the time.”
Adam was told that more advanced recruits had been sent on training exercises to the Lake District and the New Forest in Hampshire, as well as paintballing sessions in the home counties.