The guilty verdict in the case of Umar Haque underlines the need for urgent action to safeguard children and young people from the threat posed by Islamist extremists, the Henry Jackson Society said.
Haque was today found guilty of trying to recruit an “army of children” for Islamic State-inspired attacks in London. The courts found that he had trained children as young as 11 for attacks on multiple targets, from Big Ben to the Westfield shopping centre.
Responding to the verdict, Emma Webb, Research Fellow in the Centre for the Response to Radicalisation and Terrorism at the Henry Jackson Society, said:
“All institutions can be exploited by extremists to influence the most impressionable in society, but surely no group is more vulnerable than children. The conviction of Umar Haque is a stark reminder that we have a very long way to go to ensure that children are protected from the psychological and physical harm done by extremists.
“Haque used a position of trust to try to warp children’s minds. This is a safeguarding issue. Despite much good work being done, schools continue to host or work with extremist individuals and stock extremist literature.
“This verdict is a wake-up call. Ofsted must reassess whether their inspections are thorough enough to meet present challenges, and make sure that schools are practicing what they preach when it comes to British values.
“The authorities now need to take urgent action to protect children and young people from the threat posed by potential terrorists.”