LONDON — A senior Muslim lawyer in Britain has claimed that hundreds of British teenagers were at risk of being radicalized by the Islamic State (IS) because they viewed the jihadists as "pop idols."
Nazir Afzal, a 52-year old Muslim prosecutor, said that the recent departures to Syria showed that many more British teenagers were at risk of "jihadimania" than previously thought, The Guardian reported.
Boys wanted to be like the IS terrorists and girls wished to be with them, which is what they used to say about the Beatles, One Direction and Justin Bieber, the British-born Pakistlawyer asserted.
He argued that the extremists treated youngsters in a way similar to sexual groomers. They manipulated them, lured them away from friends and family and then took them away.
The former head of the Crown Prosecution Service in the north-west feared "another 7/7" as jihadists continued to radicalize youngsters in Britain. He said that there was a need to introduce a "community-led approach" in order to stop this.
About 600 young Muslims had fled the country to join IS in Syria. Afzal noted that this marked a "new dawn in terrorism" and therefore, called for a renewed approach to tackle the problem.
He said that he wanted the next government to create an army of young British Muslims who would be best equipped to turn "would-be IS fighters back from the brink."
He noted that telling youngsters that "It's bad for you" or calling the police would not solve this problem and added that the message will be more powerful, if it was delivered via young professionals who could show them that there was "hope" if they stuck to education and made contributions locally.