The vicious and violent attack in the heart of London this week is a reminder of the horrifying result of radicalisation. Details are still emerging about the man who carried out the indiscriminate attack, which targeted innocent men, women and children who were going about their day.
But we do know that he was a British-born man, named by news outlets as 52-year-old Khalid Masood and that the police are appealing to anyone who might know anything about how he was radicalised to contact them. As the investigation continues, it is not appropriate for us to make further comment on this individual.
But his actions are a gruesome reminder of the dangers of radicalisation. That a man could intentionally mow down innocent children with a car is unthinkable. It goes against any form of humanity and our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this unspeakable act of violence.
The victims could have easily included any one of us. We could have been walking in central London, going about our business. This more than anything, emphasises the far-reaching and pervasive nature of radicalisation. It is not just a danger to those on the streets, but Extremists are also targeting our children online, using innocent-looking social media profiles and readily available messaging apps on their smartphones to capture their attention.
A recent study into online radicalisation makes for alarming reading for parents and families across the UK. It says that half of the UK’s young people who succumb to radicalisation are brainwashed by extremist material on the internet. It also finds that the number of people radicalised online in Britain has doubled in the last five years.
At FAST, we provide support to vulnerable families and individuals whose lives have been affected by the trauma of losing loved ones to hateful ideologies and groups. We are here to support anyone who has been affected by Wednesday’s events, or anyone who has any concerns that someone they love might be vulnerable to radicalisation.
Whilst there is no catchall description, or foolproof signs that parents can look out for if they are worried about their children, we have published a guide if you are concerned and have also highlighted some possible signs to be aware of.
As the news remains dominated by the horrific accounts of the terror attack in London, we are reminded of the violent, deadly and far-reaching effects of extremism.
We pray for all those affected by the attack in London.