U.K. Tries to Thwart Al-Qaeda Recruitment in Schools

The U.K. government said schools in England must do more to prevent violent extremists and terrorist groups including al-Qaeda from recruiting students, and issued guidelines on how to combat the threat. A 44-page pamphlet released today by the Department for Children, Schools and Families advises teachers how to spot and help vulnerable pupils age 5 to 11 in schools across the country. “We have learned from past experience that a security response is not enough,” Schools Secretary Ed Balls said in the pamphlet. “We need to address the underlying issues that can attract people toward violent extremist causes.” The guidelines are part of a larger campaign unveiled by the government in June to raise awareness of extremism in local areas that include schools, colleges and universities. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said then Britain can’t wait for another attack like the July 2005 London suicide bombings in which 52 people were killed, and that preventative action is needed. Among the U.K. population of 61 million are 1.6 million followers of Islam. Some 800,000 of the Muslims in Britain are under 25, according to the government, which yesterday set up an advisory group to ensure young Muslims have access to democratic channels for dealing with concerns. There is no “typical profile” of U.K.-based extremists influenced by al-Qaeda, according to the pamphlet, titled “Learning to be Safe Together.” It advises teachers that they can come from diverse geographical areas, ethnic and cultural backgrounds and include converts to Islam. Caroline Alexander and Camilla Hall report.