‘Fight fire with fire’: Recruit video game developers to tackle radicalization, says peer
Former reviewer of anti-terrorism legislation, Lord Carlile, has urged MPs to employ the services of online game designers to create an effective counter-narrative for young Muslims at risk of being radicalized on the internet and traveling to Syria.
Current Foreign Office figures suggest over 700 Brits have absconded to the Middle East to join the ranks of the so-called Islamic State and other extremist organizations. They estimate half have returned to the UK.
Lord Carlile’s comments come after the parents of Britain’s youngest suicide bomber – 17-year-old Talha Asmal – said their son was “exploited” by online radicals who “targeted and befriended him.”
Asmal is believed to have died in a suicide bombing in Iraq.
Carlile told BBC Radio 4 the government should “fight fire with fire” by tackling the threat of online radicalism by working with computer programmers.
“It’s hard to counter, but one does have to use the same tools, the same thought processes, that radicalize people,” he said.
“The government must sit down with the best brains who create games on the internet, who write programs for the internet, and they must try and produce the same methods to show that the good guys sometimes win. That being radicalized and going to fight for ISIL is actually a ghastly thing to do, that it destroys families. That happiness can be obtained by having an ordinary British life.
“We’re talking mostly about very bright young men and women and I believe that they are persuadable, but one has to fight fire with the same sort of fire,” he added.
It was revealed on Sunday that Asmal, who operated under the name of Abu Yusuf al-Britain, had taken part in a suicide bomb attack in Iraq.
His family issued a statement blaming his radicalization on social networks.
“Talha was a loving, kind, caring and affable teenager.
“He never harbored any ill will against anybody, nor did he ever exhibit any violent, extreme or radical views of any kind.
“Talha’s tender years and naivety were it seems, however, exploited by persons unknown who, hiding behind the anonymity of the world wide web, targeted and befriended Talha and engaged in a process of deliberate and calculated grooming of him.
“Whilst there it appears that Talha fell under the spell of individuals who continued to prey on his innocence and vulnerability, to the point where if the press reports are accurate he was ordered to his death by so-called ISIL handlers and leaders too cowardly to do their own dirty work.
“We are all naturally utterly devastated and heartbroken by the unspeakable tragedy that now appears to have befallen us.”