Taliban suppor ter who switched sides leads Uni project against holy war
A Taliban sympathiser who abandoned his extremist views and became a Liverpool University academic today warns: “More needs to be done to stop British Muslims heading abroad to fight in jihad wars.”
Mubin Shaikh, 38, says UK youngsters are being radicalised and heading to the Middle East to fight with terror groups like Isis, which is rampaging through Syria and Iraq.
And – most chillingly – he believes it may even be too late to save many British extremists who are hellbent on heading to the Middle East to fight.
Mr Shaikh, who was radicalised after meeting Taliban members in Pakistan in the 1990s, said: “The problems have been festering for years and now the horse has bolted.”
His warning comes shortly after the murder of captive US journalist James Foley by a jihadist with an English accent and a warning from the Home Office that a terror attack on UK soil is now “highly likely”.
In an exclusive interview with the Sunday ECHO, Mr Shaikh told how he was “bitten by the jihadi bug” but gave up his extremist views after seeing the horrors of the 9/11 attacks.
He went on to become a spy for CSIS, Canada’s equivalent of MI5, and helped foil a bomb plot in Toronto in 2006.
He now gives psychology lectures at Liverpool University, where he is studying for a PhD as a member of the tactical decision making research group.
The specialist unit – led by Professor Jonathan Cole – studies the psychology of conflict and armed confrontations.
Mr Shaikh said: “I was self-radicalised in my 20s.
“I was travelling through India and Pakistan where I had an encounter with the Taliban.
“I was bitten by the jihadi bug. I recruited other individuals to join the jihadi world view.
“It all comes from feeling like you are not wanted and, from that, you turn to these groups where you feel welcomed.
“It’s no surprise to me more British Muslims serve in Isis rather than in the British Army.
“There is a sense of purpose and adventure in these groups and you are quickly drawn further into their mentality.
“I saw police and intelligence officers as combatants who were there to be attacked.
“You see yourself as being discriminated against and believe there is a war on Islam.
“I used to watch videos of people being dismembered, I saw the West in general with all its symbols as the enemy.”
Mr Shaikh’s research aims to understand the mindset of jihadists who take up arms.
He said: “They see Muslims as being under attack so they choose to go and fight. The majority have become extremely violent and the chance of bringing them back is very low.
“It’s a terrible situation and we need ways to counter this.
“The jihadists are often kids from troubled backgrounds and they feel loved and appreciated among these radical groups. We have to make people feel welcome and minority communities need to show they want to belong.”