Islamic State supporters are actively recruiting in Macarthur and vulnerable youth are at risk of radicalisation, a respected Muslim community leader has warned.
Minto Mosque executive member Abdul Salie said the brazen daylight stabbing of Minto grandfather Wayne Greenhalgh a week ago in an apparent lone wolf terror attack, had been a “wake-up call” for the community.
Mr Salie said recruiters were targeting young people at various local hangouts.
“We have a problem and we need to do something about it immediately,’’ Mr Salie said. “We do not want our youth brainwashed.
The young ones, they just want somewhere to go and play games but once they have gone a few times the brainwashing starts.”
Mr Salie said 22-year old Ihsas Khan, the Minto resident charged with the lone wolf stabbing of Mr Greenhalgh, was known to members of the mosque but had not attended services regularly in the past two to three years.
“I’ve had parents come forth since the stabbing, worrying about their own kids and asking us to help,” he said.
“Our community is saddened by what has happened, we want to work together to get youth out of these situations.”
He said Muslim youth in Minto specifically, and Macarthur generally, urgently needed safe recreation spaces away from the influence of those seeking to radicalise them.
First steps to create that “safe place” occurred last week when Mr Salie sought advice from young people and Anglican ministers on the best ways to engage with local youth.
“Brett Hall, the reverend at Rosemeadow Anglican, and I are working on establishing a youth program at the mosque,” Mr Falie said.
Organised activities for young people have not been held at the mosque before.
The program will focus on providing Muslim youth with a safe and happy place to spend their time.
“We haven’t finalised the details but we are hoping to run something on Saturdays and Sundays and at least once a week,” he said. “Some where youth can go to talk, play games and do some activities.”
Mr Salie also praised the Campbelltown community in the wake of the attack on Wayne Greenhalgh.
“We have had no backlash from the Campbelltown community,” he said. “The people of Campbelltown are very understanding.”
Anglican minister David Ould urged the community to ensure some good came out of the situation.
“We are confident that our local community will reach out in love and friendship to our Muslim neighbours at this difficult time,” he said.