JAN Trust is a multi-award winning charity empowering and providing leadership for women in order to create positive and active citizens of society

Syria,

Jihadi Bride Heading Women’s Cell

This week news reports emerged that British widow Sally Jones is leading a secret army of female jihadis who are aiming- along with their children, to launch a violent wave of suicide attacks in Europe.

The mother of two has been hailed by Daesh as a figurehead for the recruitment of western girls and women. Bragging about her plans to release hell on the UK through planned attacks and suicide missions, Sally Jones has been able to maintain a presence on social media despite her accounts repeatedly being taken down. She is also believed to have recruited other females through social media.

Mothers fighting radicalisation

Just before Christmas, we completed a number of our Web Guardians© programme across the UK educating Muslim mothers about extremism and the dangers of the Internet. Our aim in the Web Guardians© programme is to empower mothers to prevent radicalisation and online radicalisation in their own families and communities.

We’re happy to say, yet again, that the programme throughout the country was a great success! Each week we had a fantastic turnout, and we watched with pride as the mums became more engaged in the discussion week-on-week.

Many spoke of concerns about their children ranging from the internet, through to bullying, through to Islamophobia. This was their safe space where they could speak up and receive not only help from JAN Trust, but the understanding and empathy from mothers in similar situations.

Getting used to this open conversation is key to our battle in fighting extremism before it takes hold. If children do not feel as though they can air their views openly to their mothers, they may feel isolated and confused, leaving them prey to online radicalisation.

Below is a selection of the great quotes the mothers came up with:

“The teaching of Islam is beautiful. If there is unity in the house with the children, then after they die this unity will continue.”

“If you think killing one person will take you to paradise, you’re not just killing one – you’re killing their family and everyone they leave behind. This isn’t from Paradise.”

“I will teach my children the true teachings of Islam and of Jihad – and what that actually means.”

Inspirational words! We’re excited to pick up in 2017 where we left off in 2016 – encouraging dialogue, raising awareness about the dangers of extremism and empowering mothers to spread counter messages of hope and peace within their communities.

To find out more about our Web Guardians© programme, please visit our website: http://webguardians.org/

The Women of Daesh

Even though the volume of people leaving Europe to join Daesh in Syria and Iraq has fallen,the proportion of these who are women is rising – very dramatically in France. Their online recruitment activity still presents a very real danger here in the UK and reinforces the need for preventative work.

This is why JAN Trust holds regular workshops to enable women to detect the early signs of radicalisation in their families and communities. Our Web Guardians© programme has helped women to push back against extremist messaging and confound Daesh recruiting efforts.

It’s difficult to imagine why any women would be convinced to join the terrorists. They have enslaved, raped and murdered women in the territory they seized from Iraq and Syria. The role they designate for women who travel to join them is as domestic slaves “secluded” from view. Worse, women and girls who have ended up in Daesh territory now find themselves being forced to fight to the death as the territory under Daesh control crumbles away.

Yet, there are women who are prepared to either leave for Syria or contemplate attacks in the west. Why is this? One reason is that the terrorists have sold a lie of empowerment. They present being a terrorist as some kind of liberation. The reality couldn’t be more different. This is a terror gang that treats women in a barbaric way. Beaten for infringing Daesh dress codes, stoned on charges of adultery or murdered for raising their voice.

Another reason women might consider joining Daesh is the myth of a tightly knit sisterhood. Glasgow born Aqsa Mahmood left for Syria and used Tumblr to present life with Daesh as something resembling a summer camp. The reality of what was going on was betrayed in letter posts where she gloried in the murder of Britons and fellow Muslims. As her own parents noted, Aqsa Mahmood had been thoroughly brainwashed.

Daesh preys upon vulnerable people through deceptive and manipulative language. It’s important to take measures to prevent this, reaching out to marginalised groups and spreading awareness of the reality behind the rhetoric of extremism and supporting people in identifying the process of radicalisation.

We owe it to every women and girl at risk of succumbing to Daesh to give them all the protection we can. By being super-informed about the threat from the terrorists, we can tackle them effectively. Knowledge if power. The more you know, the better able you are to answer questions from somebody who is in the process of being manipulated by Daesh.

Uniting For A Better Internet: What We Can All Do To Stop Extreme Content Reaching Our Kids

Hate speech, online ‘trolls’ and extremists who use the internet to target our children were thrust back into the headlines this week as MPs summoned tech giants to answer why they’re not doing more to stop it.

Executives from Facebook, Twitter and Google were asked by the Home Affairs select committee why they did not police their content more effectively.

The social media leaders were told their companies had a "terrible reputation" for dealing with problems.

It is a welcome move. Pressure needs to be put on these companies to do more. They are often accused of putting profit over the safeguarding of young people and at this hearing, MPs asked exactly that tough question.

The response was an acknowledgement that they are indeed not doing enough.

We are gravely concerned that terrorist organisations such as Daesh are ramping up their efforts to target young adults here in the UK via the platforms these tech giants provide, so any progress made to more effectively police content is great news.

Back in December 2016, Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft announced they were teaming up to tackle extremist content. They pledged to work together to identify and remove extremist content on their platforms through an information-sharing initiative.

This represented a welcome first step. We hope that the Home Affairs select committee hearing will encourage further moves forward.

However, the content on these sites and apps is vast. We, as users, need to assist in policing and reporting far-right, terrorist or bullying content so that the tech companies can act.

And we also need to monitor what our children are accessing when online, whether that’s via computer or their smartphones.

Safer Internet Day 2017 was celebrated globally on Tuesday 7th February with the theme 'Be the change: unite for a better internet'. We published a blog on the day focusing on what parents can and should do to play their part in safeguarding our kids. This holds the key.

It’s right that the powers that be from the tech giants are taken to task about their safeguarding shortcomings and challenged about how and when they are going to start doing more to remove extreme content.

But each and every one of us must unite in our fight to ensure threatening posts which can lead to radicalised views do not reach and begin to indoctrinate our children.

We must educate ourselves and our children about online material and what to do if we come across it. Understanding that while the internet is an incredibly valuable resource it can pose a risk to our wellbeing.

At JAN Trust, we aim to help mothers who fear for their children’s safety online with our Web Guardians© project. Our sessions explore how to deal with the threats and how to speak with our children about them.

Our strategy begins right in our homes. We are encouraged by government moves to question the social media giants and hope this leads to a reduction of extremist content online. But we must work together, uniting for a better internet. And for a brighter future for our children.
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