The 7th of July 2020 marks 15 years since the London bombings in 2005. Sajda Mughal survived the bombing at King’s Cross station, and since then, has dedicated her life in tacking extremism via the Web Guardians™ programme designed to build community resilience through the education and empowerment of women and mothers to prevent and tackle radicalisation and online extremism.
She has actively campaigned for the government to reform its counter-terrorism strategy.
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When a suicide bomber blew himself up on the Tube in 2005, passenger Sajda Mughal felt like she was frozen to her seat.
“It was as though I had a noose around my heart that was being tightened,” she says. “I was waiting to die.” She was 22.
Emma Craig was only 14 when another terrorist on a different train detonated his device in the carriage next to her.
She was also “frozen in shock” as the bombs which killed 52 and injured hundreds left her with invisible scars.
As the 15th anniversary of 7/7 looms, Sajda and Emma told me how their lives moved on afterwards.
Emma went to university to study languages but the trauma she had buried meant she couldn’t vocalise what happened to her for almost a decade.
Sajda, almost killed by men of her own religion, was driven to lead a charity tackling extremism and radicalisation.
But every time any terror attack occurred, Sajda and Emma were transported back to the darkness and the fear. They are appalled that, 15 years on, attacks are happening more and more.
Sajda believes the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy is failing the public.
In January 2019 an independent review was launched into the Prevent programme, which aims to stop people becoming terrorists. But, beset by delays, it won’t report until 2021.
“How many more innocent people are going to die before something is done?” asks Sajda, who was awarded an OBE in 2015. “I am tired of hearing that yet another terrorist attacker had been referred to the Prevent programme yet still went out and killed.
“It has failed. It needs an urgent, transparent review.
“But the Home Secretary Priti Patel has just announced that Prevent will be expanded – before working out what’s gone wrong and fixing it.
“Since lockdown, mothers have been reaching out to our charity saying their kids are spending more and more time online and are vulnerable to extremism.
“People are being brainwashed and radicalised right now.
Emma Craig will be making a speech during Wednesday’s online anniversary commemoration.
She says: “If I talk about 7/7 today people nod and say, ‘Yes – I was at Westminster or Borough or London Bridge.
“The number of people who are struggling with the legacy of terror simply increases year by year.
“And when I see people starting out on the long, hard journey I’ve been on, it simply breaks my heart.”