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On Sunday, May 17, 2015, the 1 p.m. BBC1 news broadcast had a segment about the likely possibility that Islamic State (IS) militants are on board migrant boats to Europe.

A summary of the story is on the BBC website.

Abdul Basit Haroun, an adviser to the Libyan government, is saying what Egyptian and Italian officials surmised months ago.

Haroun says he has had conversations with smugglers in parts of North Africa controlled by militants.

According to him, IS allows the boats to continue operating as long as they receive half the income. As Libya has had such a weak central government, it is easy for IS to take control of the situation. Local militias also are thought to be partners with the smugglers.

The televised news story explained that, in some cases, IS arranges with the boat owner to take a certain number of militants. Once on board, these militants are segregated from the migrants. The men in charge of the boat are told in advance that the boats must not capsize and must complete the journey. It is thought that these journeys have been successful thus far.

Once the migrants land in Europe, the IS militants blend in with everyone else and could be travelling anywhere. Authorities would have a difficult time detecting them and, for this reason, have little evidence this is happening.

However, that does not mean it is not happening.

Meanwhile, Europe has thousands of home-grown radicals going to Syria with others returning from the country.

The centrist London Evening Standard has the best coverage of the situation in the UK.

Last week, the paper told us that a 17-year old Londoner who intended to fight with ISIS then returned once he arrived in Turkey will face no prosecution, even though he refused to participate in a government counter-radicalisation programme:

… the prosecution had to be abandoned after the  Attorney General, the Government’s top law officer, refused to authorise the charge. He ruled that taking the boy to court would not be in the public interest because of his age and immaturity and the fact that he came home before entering Syria to fight.

The decision is the only occasion on which the prosecution of a Syria-related offence has been vetoed on the grounds of public interest despite the existence of enough evidence to justify charges.

Anything could happen now.

In April, the father of a 15-year old girl who ran away from her East London home in December 2014 to become an IS bride in Syria, admitted that he took her on

a flag-burning rally led by hate preacher Anjem Choudary outside the US Embassy in 2012 …

Images of Mr Hussen, 47, at the US Embassy protest emerged after his 15-year-old daughter Amira and two teenage friends went missing from their family homes in east London, prompting an international police hunt.

He has expressed his regret at taking part in the rally and has apologised. Also:

Mr Hussen said he was “disappointed and upset” at his daughter for apparently joining IS. She has reportedly not had contact with her family since she left the UK in December.

This just shows how strongly young people can be influenced.

Additional Evening Standard articles on young British radicals can be found within the two aforementioned links.

Nazir Afzal, the former head of the Crown Prosecution Service in north-west England, told The Guardian in April 2015 that another 7/7 attack could happen.

He says that, for some young people, IS terrorists have the appeal of popstars. So far, adult appeals against radicalism, even those which are neighbourhood-based, have been unsuccessful. Afzal thinks the approach must change:

The reality is that they’re no more than narcissistic, murderous cowboys. We need to stand up and say that very, very clearly, rather than allow kids to be drawn to them like the equivalent of pop idols.

True, but this is a form of youthful rebellion — in all its meanings — and it is unlikely that grown-ups will be listened to.

One wonders what the turning point will be and when it will come.


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