As part of its anti-extremist strategy, Derby is using a group of cyber expert to filter messages on Derby social media sites to prevent is young Muslims from being influenced to sympathize with extremist groups.
The world is witnessing an upsurge of cybercrime from Islamic extremist groups, such ISIS, Hamas and affiliate outfits. What is freaking out governments is the rate at which these extremist groups are garnering support and sympathizers through the internet. To avoid the radicalization of its youth, Derby Local authority set up an anti-extremist group of cyber experts whose work is to filter extremist messages from Derby social media.
The group , which is more like a social media-censorship team, monitors major social media platform like, twitter, Facebook, and message boards for any radical messages that may influence the youth into sympathizing with the extremist group or buying there far fetched ideologies.
Notably, the anti- extremist group is looking out for distorted Islamic texts which extremist group use to stir sympathy and garner new support from young Muslims. Upon identifying a distorted Islamic text such a misinterpreted quote from the Quran, the team responds with a snapshot of original text from the Holy Quran. The group also have a scholarly wing that gives correct interpretation to distorted Islamic narratives.
Dawn Robinson, head of the group at the Derby city Council, says the anti-extremist project is a community project funded by City council and incorporates people from all faiths. Furthermore the group collaborates with derby police to pull down some of the offensive messages form the internet.
“It depends on what is being said, how likely it is to affect people, how vociferously it’s being distributed. Some of it will be criminal, in which case the police and the security services are able to get rid of them,” says Mrs. Robison adding that very extreme post like beheading videos are referred to Derby Counter Terrorism Internal Referral Unit.
“It’s a way of getting positive messages heard out in the street. Extremists movements have their own versions which promote things like calls to arms and the formation of a Caliphate, in terms of a group like Islamic State,” says Robinson.
The group is part of a wider anti-extremist strategy dubbed Channel launched by the government in 2011. Channel boasts of saving thousands of young muslin from falling to the extremist recruiting antics. People can also refer family members or friends who are at a high risk of being radicalized, to join channel meetings.
Channel meeting comprises multi-faith organizations, social care providers and more importantly highly trained intervention specialists “who are trained in very specific skills and ways of working” around the psychology of young people, says Robinson.
Asked about the threat posed by the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria (IS), which is expanding at alarming rate, Mrs. Robinson says Channel is yet to witness any significant impact of ISIS in Derby adding that only time will tell if there will be an increases of Radicalization cases. “Obviously we will work on the biggest risks and we are certainly upping the ante when it comes to Islamic State to make sure young people aren’t picking up extremist ideology,” says Robinson.
More importantly, Mrs. Robinson is urging more people to refer their friends and family members who are at risk being radicalized to Channel, adding that the group is there to help not to police. “Channel doesn’t work in a space where people are already terrorists. The aim is integrated support and help rather than policing and intelligence.”
“There is success. It’s got a very high success rate. There are people in Derby now that were at risk of being radicalized that now aren’t,” concludes Robinson.
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