The interview with the mother of one of the London Bridge terror attack extremists, published this week, makes for heartbreaking reading.
Valeria Khadija Collina spoke to Italy’s L’Espresso magazine about her son, Youssef Zaghba, 22, who was one of the perpetrators of the attack on Saturday 3 June.
Her words describe the pain of losing her son to radicalisation. She says she had already become concerned about Zaghba’s behaviour and had tried to keep track of who he was mixing with. She had also attempted to monitor his online communications.
“When children make mistakes, parents always feel some guilt. But I did my best, and I think he was worn down on the inside,” says Collina. “We always kept track of his friends and made sure he didn’t fall in with the wrong people. But he had Internet and that’s where everything comes from.”
Collina’s hurt at her son’s path to radicalisation is palpable. She says her son was targeted by online recruiters who promised him a pure existence within Islam – something Collina recognises was a “fantasy that was transmitted by Internet”.
After discovering that her son was one of the three men who carried out the London Bridge attack, Collina says she will now dedicate her life to fighting Daesh ideology by “teaching real Islam to people and trying to convince families to fill the void that they might find in their children”.
It’s a frightening story of the online dangers our young people face. The path to radicalisation can often be complex and spotting the signs is not an exact science. At FAST, we have worked with many families who have faced radicalisation within the home. This experience has shown us that there are some factors and behaviours that are commonly found in those who may have been exposed to extremist ideas.
Terror networks such as Daesh are increasingly using the internet to reach and groom our children. Studies suggest that half of the UK’s young people who succumb to radicalisation are brainwashed by extremist material on the internet and that the number of people radicalised online in Britain has doubled in the last five years.
At FAST, we have developed a series of ways in which we can all take action. It is our duty as parents and guardians to protect our children, our families, from this increasing threat. It is vital that we do not become complacent or think, ‘this won’t happen to me’. As we’ve heard from Valeria Khadija Collina, it can, and the consequences can be horrifying.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us – we have a wealth of resources to help and assist.
Together, we can prevent our children being lead into a world of terrorism and from harming themselves and others. It starts with us.