AN IMAM has said the whole community failed two boys from Dewsbury who are believed to have travelled to Syria to join Islamic State fighters.
Farooq Yunus is from the Zakaria Mosque in Savile Town, where 17-year-olds Hassan Munshi and Talha Asmal attended religious school.
He said: “I think we’ve failed. Not just the people in here, the whole system – the council, the police, the community.
“Society has failed these two children and somehow we should put things in place where if they do feel strongly, they know what to do.”
Mr Yunus added he endured sleepless nights after being told in a text the boys were missing.
He added: “I thought we’d got over that, that it was a problem for the London people, or Birmingham, but it’s still here."
Former Dewsbury and Mirfield MP Shahid Malik, a friend of both families, is acting as their spokesman. Mr Malik said: “This should serve as a wake-up call for parents to be more vigilant.
“There are people preying on their children, grooming them in the same way kids are groomed for sexual exploitation.”
Hassan is believed to be the brother of Hammaad Munshi, Britain’s youngest convicted terrorist.
Mr Malik said: “Whether it’s influenced Hassan’s own way of thinking, that’s only a question that he can answer.”
A statement from the families said they are in a state of “profound shock” over events this week. Both boys were last seen on March 31, having said they were going on a school trip.
Later that day they are thought to have boarded a Thomas Cook flight at Manchester Airport to Dalaman in Turkey.
They were not heard from for several days and did not respond to calls on their mobile phones.
Initial efforts to trace them focused on Turkey but they are now believed to be in war-torn Syria.
West Yorkshire Police and the North East Counter-Terrorism Unit (NECTU) are involved in the search with agencies abroad.
The boys are the latest of many young people thought to have gone to Syria and Iraq. It is estimated that about 600 British citizens have left in an attempt to join Islamic State terrorists.
An NECTU spokeswoman said: “We are aware that large numbers of British nationals are travelling to the Middle East.
“These people are from across the UK and this problem is not specific to a particular area.
“While these people may be travelling for a variety of reasons, travel to the Middle East for any purpose is extremely unsafe and strongly discouraged.”
Hassan’s grandfather Yaqub Munshi founded Dewsbury’s first Sharia law court.
Both boys were said to have attended the Zakaria mosque until they were about 15 years old.
Hassan Munshi was thought not at risk from Islamic extremists due to tight controls on his internet access.
The family statement added: “These were just two ordinary Yorkshire lads who enjoyed the things that all young people enjoy at that age.
“Both Hassan and Talha had a promising future as an apprentice and an A-Level student respectively.
“We are praying that they will be back with us soon and are able to realise that future.”
The statement appealed for information on their whereabouts and called on parents to be extra vigilant, “although, as we found, it is near impossible to know your children have been groomed and brainwashed.
“We need to urgently educate our young children about the dangers posed by those who prey on impressionable teenagers.”