Over 11 years have passed since 7/7, the terror that took place that day still haunts me as if it were yesterday. As a Muslim and 7/7 survivor, sat on the same train as the bomber, I was horrified to learn that the perpetrators had carried the attack out in the name of Islam, a religion of peace.
My experience during the events of that day changed my life and instilled in me a burning desire to ensure terror never strikes again. That day still motivates me to do whatever I can to help prevent vulnerable people from radicalisation. As a result, I started the JAN Trust's Web Guardians program, to educate mothers on how to keep their children safe when they are online and identify the warning signs that present themselves when somebody is in the process of being radicalised.
This work is now more important than ever. After all the recent terror attacks, such as Etienne-du-Rouvray, Ansbach and Nice, Daesh supporters took to social media almost immediately to support these appalling acts of terror. They even used the #PrayForNice hashtag to get their tweets noticed. To its credit, Twitter takes these reprehensible messages down speedily and is significantly better at closing down accounts linked to Daesh.
Twitters increased vigilance has forced jihadis to retreat onto Telegram, a newer less regulated social media channel, similar to Whatsapp and Twitter, with the added security of end-to-end encryption. Making it significantly harder for parents or programs like WebGuardians to understand what conversations children may be having.
What has now become apparent is that this is also a problem for terrorists. Hiding out on Telegram appears to have limited their ability to reach the types of young people they typically try to radicalise. Telegram is like an echo chamber where they can hang out with other like-minded extremists, but recruitment suffers.
Unfortunately, some jihadis online are already urging Daesh supporters to go back on Twitter, even though the effect of greater vigilance is taking its toll. How many times do you want to be closed down over and over again before giving up? As Daesh tries to reassert their presence back on Twitter,campaigns like Web Guardians can have a devastating effect on the extremists to spread their messages. If we keep our eyes open and educate all those around us, we can make a difference.