A 21-year-old from northern Ghana was last year stopped from joining the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Executive Director of the West Africa Centre for Counter-Extremism (WACCE), Mr Mutaru Mumuni Muqthar has revealed.
According to him, WACCE, since its establishment in 2013, has prevented about 20 people from joining extremism in Ghana.
Mr Muqthar, a graduate of Coventry’s International Terrorism masters course, made this known at a press conference following an event by the University’s Alumni Association at its partner institution, Ghana Technology University College in Accra.
According to him, he managed to stop the young man from joining ISIS with just hours to spare as part of his commitment to fight terrorism.
“Last year I saved a young man’s life. He had been radicalised online and was on his way to join the terrorist group ISIS after he spent time online looking for meaning in his life.
“Just a day before leaving to join the group, he watched my TV outreach programme on counter-radicalisation, and that was what changed everything and he changed his mind,” he said.
“West Africa is one of the deadliest regions for terrorism. My plans are to expand my counter terrorism work to include the entire West Africa region, helping to dissuade vulnerable groups and individuals from engaging in violent extremism and falling into the void of terrorist recruitment,” he added.
He said it was important to deepen understanding of violent extremism and radicalisation to vulnerable people at risk.
Mr Mugthar earlier appeared as a guest speaker at the university event, which was run in conjunction with the British Council.
It included master classes on entrepreneurship and employability for around 100 graduates. John Latham, Vice Chancellor of Coventry University, in a statement said:
“Our students and alumni make a significant contribution to their communities, be they in the UK or internationally.”
“Mutaru is among the most significant and important. His team’s work will shape many young lives and spread a message of peace and, I am delighted that his journey began in Coventry.
“The success of our alumni is in part down to the experiences they have here and the opportunities they take throughout their studies.”