Iraqi refugee Ahmed Hassan came to the UK three years ago when he was 15.
His mother, who he said he didn’t know well, was shot and his father was killed in an explosion when he was 12, an act for which he blamed Britain and vowed to avenge.
At the end of last week, Hassan was found guilty of attempted murder after he set off a bomb last September on a subway train at Parsons Green in London, injuring 51 people.
About the bomb, Dean Haydon, head of Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command, said, “It was only through good fortune that it only partially exploded. If it had, without a doubt, we would have been dealing with many fatalities.”
Deradicalizing children who have been brainwashed by ISIS is a formidable project, but in this case, the UK dropped the ball in the following ways:
In an interview with British authorities three months after he arrived in the country, Hassam told authorities he had been recruited by ISIS. “They trained us how to kill. It was all religious based.”
While in the care of a charity, he was caught listening to a song in Arabic calling for slaughtering people in their homes and viewing photographs of fighters and the ISIS flag.
It took the authorities eight months to place him in the UK’s anti-terrorism “Prevent” program. He was still in the program when he plotted and carried out the attack.
He was placed in foster care, but the couple, who took him in and cared for him like a son, were not told about his past training as an ISIS militant. “I don’t think social services even realized because they never told us. If they had been aware they would have said something to us,” said his foster mother. While living at the couple’s home, he ordered the explosives for the bomb on Amazon using a voucher he had received for being the “Student of the Year” at Brooklands College in Weybridge, where he studied media and photography. He told his foster mother the delivery was something for his Playstation. “If we’d known, we could have been more watchful. I still can’t believe he did it. He seemed like such a good kid,” said his foster father.
Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner David Munro admitted that opportunities had been missed to stop Hassan before he carried out the attack. “As far as Surrey is concerned, it is obvious we were too slow – all the organizations involved,” he said.
Learn more about the radicalization of children by checking out the trailer for Clarion’s upcoming filmJihad Generation.