INSIDE: Spe­cial pull-out on the hid­den dan­ger of rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion

Manchester Evening News - - FRONT PAGE -

THE young man has a trou­bled past. He grew up in care and sleeps rough, he has had prob­lems with drugs and al­co­hol.

He’s des­per­ate for some kind of fresh start but trusts very few peo­ple - just a group of men on the streets who have wel­comed him as a brother, along with a char­ity worker who vol­un­teers with the home­less. She has no­ticed the change in him, these last few weeks. He thinks the change in him­self is pos­i­tive, but the char­ity worker is deeply con­cerned.

“I think he’s be­ing rad­i­calised”, she tells the Manchester Evening News. “They (ex­trem­ists) are out on the streets of Rusholme preach­ing to peo­ple, they are tar­get­ing home­less lads. He’s ex­tremely vul­ner­a­ble.”

The views the teenager has ex­pressed to the char­ity worker are se­ri­ous enough for her to re­port him to the North West Counter Ter­ror­ism Unit.

In the wake of the Manchester bomb, in which 22 peo­ple were mur­dered and hun­dreds in­jured, the vig­i­lance of the au­thor­i­ties and the pub­lic has in­creased dra­mat­i­cally. The gov­ern­ment’s anti-rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion drive, Pre­vent, has been the ob­ject of much crit­i­cism. But de­spite this, be­tween April and July of this year the scheme re­ceived 200 re­fer­rals about po­ten­tial rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion from across the coun­try - twice the amount than in the pre­vi­ous four­month pe­riod. Un­der­stand­ing rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion and how it works isn’t just an ab­stract prob­lem, an in­tel­lec­tual ex­er­cise to chal­lenge aca­demics or politi­cians.

In 2017, the cold re­al­ity of rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion is all too pal­pa­ble and af­fects all of us, reaches ev­ery com­mu­nity, ev­ery town and city.

There can now be no doubt that a small but sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of peo­ple, born and raised in Bri­tain, who - as you read this - are in the midst of a process where they may be­come will­ing to com­mit vi­o­lent acts in the name of an ex­treme ide­ol­ogy. Un­der­stand­ing how and why this hap­pens is vi­tal to stop­ping it. As well as the hu­man cost, ex­trem­ism can drive a wedge be­tween the or­di­nary Mus­lim ma­jor­ity and wider so­ci­ety. These events put the spot­light on rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion - the process that takes an or­di­nary per­son on the street and turns them into some­one will­ing to kill or die for a cause. Here, the MEN looks at how Is­lamist ex­trem­ists re­cruit peo­ple, on the streets and in jail, and what cam­paign­ers think can be done to stop it.

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