London: The United Kingdom fears a rise in terrorism after a secret government report revealed that around 3,000 British children enrol in Pakistani madrassas, known to have terrorist links, annually, according to the Daily Mail.
The government report reveals that every year, thousands of British children are taken to Pakistan to enrol in “extremist summer schools” which teach a “glorified version of jihad,” the Daily Mail reported while quoting sources.
British officials fear that youngsters are radicalised at these extremist schools and return to the UK with a “warped ideology,” posing a terrorism risk to the society.
In fact, this fear is strengthened by the fact that two of the perpetrators of the July 7, 2005, London bombings – Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer – attended madrassas in Pakistan a year before launching the brutal attack which claimed the lives of 52 people.
“It is highly likely that this education in Pakistan, even for short periods of time, increases the risk of exposure to extremism for British-Pakistani children. Enrolment at madrassas poses the greatest risk of exposure to more serious forms of religious extremism,” a source told the British newspaper.
Three Pakistani madrassas of concern have been identified by the report, namely the Darul Uloom Haqqania (DUH) madrasa in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region, the Jamia Binoria in Karachi and Jamiatul Uloom Ul Islamia in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, according to Daily Mail. In return, each of these madrassas has denied their involvement in extremism.
The DUH madrasa, labelled as the ‘University of Jihad’, has seen the likes of Al Qaeda terrorist Asim Umar as students and has also given an “honorary doctorate” to terrorist and former Taliban leader Mullah Omar.
Adding to this, officials fear that British taxpayers may have inadvertently provided the madrassas with funds.
The Khyber government, which will receive GBP 283 million from the UK by 2020 as part of a decade-long project aimed at boosting education, raised eyebrows when it gave the DUH or ‘University of Jihad’ a GBP 2.2 million grant in 2016.
“If you ask questions about the ‘Taliban’, ‘Taliban’ is a term used for students so we call all students ‘Taliban’. If some of the students turn violent or extremist, then what can we do? We have nothing to do with it,” the madrasa’s chief Maulana Hamid ul Haq said, denying any involvement with extremists.
A spokesman from the Department for International Development has denied that British taxpayer money is diverted to fund madrassas. “All funds for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are for agreed purposes. It does not include funding for madrassas,” the spokesman said.
One of the madrassas of concern, the Jamia Binoria madrasa, has been accused of adopting a ‘pro-jihadi and anti-Western stance’ and has foreign students in attendance. However, an official has said that no British students were enrolled in the school at the moment.
While parents in the United Kingdom take their children to Pakistan on the pretext of visiting relatives, it has been found that these children are enrolled in few of Pakistan’s estimated 20,000 madrassas instead.