A 13-year-old schoolboy has been reported to the UK government’s controversial anti-extremism Prevent programme for celebrating the van attack on a north London mosque last week and describing it as “wonderful news”. The teenager was reported to the scheme by his school last week. He is thought to have previously displayed racist signs, which were being dealt with by his school, according to The Sunday Times.
It is understood he has an older relative with links to the far-right English Defence League (EDL), it reported. The stated aim of the Prevent strategy is to safeguard vulnerable young Muslim individuals from being radicalised and relies on intelligence coming from community leaders. But critics argue the strategy is counterproductive and can make individuals feel isolated and more open to radicalisation.
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The van attack last Monday killed a man and injured nine others. It led to a marked increase in referrals to Prevent of neo-Nazi sympathisers heard praising the actions of the alleged killer. “It’s not unusual to see a spike in referrals immediately after a significant incident or terrorist attack,” William Baldet, a senior Prevent coordinator, told the Times.
“For some people it’s a case of joining the dots in the light of an individual’s past behaviour,” he said.
The van attack followed three ISIS-inspired attacks in three months in London and Manchester that killed 35 people. In certain regions, such as the Midlands, Yorkshire and south Wales, Neo-Nazis account for a quarter of Prevent cases.