Written by Student Rights on 15 June 2010 at 10am

Rehabilitation or Radicalisation?

An interesting piece from the BBC today outlines how a young Muslim man who was sent to Pakistan for drug rehabilitation was recruited into the Taliban, taught to use an AK-47 and soon found himself undergoing extensive guerilla training. In yet another revelation about the extremist threat to the UK, 'Irfan' (identity masked for safety) told the BBC Asian Network's Sanjiv Buttoo about his time in a madrassa (religious school) in Pakistan where he was sent by his parents to help him recover from his addiction to heroin.

He stated that "They just gave me an AK47 assault rifle and I was taught how to strip the weapon, clean it and fire it as well as how to carry out guerrilla activities - I could not believe this was happening."

Irfan spent 40 days at the madrassa he was sent to by his father, before being recruited by Taliban militants and sent to Afghanistan.  He outlines how he was seen as beneficial for the Taliban due to his English.  What he found when he was sent to Bagram was another couple from the UK who had been students at Cambridge University. Once he saw this he said that "I knew I had to get out of there and get out quick. After a few days I slipped back into Pakistan and back to the UK."

Imam's in the UK have stated that young people are at risk of radicalisation and recruitment, especially in Pakistan.  "Once someone crosses that line, they rarely come back."  explains Imam Dayan.  "They see young Muslims from affluent backgrounds as their next target, and that's already started to happen." The potential for students to be lured into extremism is worrying. 

Here at Student Rights, we campaign actively and strongly against the threats young adults face.  The tactics employed in the United Kingdom are often carbon copies of those tried and tested in Pakistan and Africa. In December 2009, the 'panty-bomber' Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab became the latest failed terrorist as a result of this kind of recruitment.  Abdulmuttalab attended the University College London and failed to detonate explosive material secreted in his pants while on board a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day.