From UK Express
By Nick Gutteridge
A three-year-old child is among hundreds of young Britons who have been earmarked as potential future Islamic State (ISIS) extremists by the government.
The youngster was picked up by a counter-terrorism programme set up to identify British people vulnerable to radicalization by Islamists.
The Channel counter-extremism programme has identified 834 such Britons under the age of 18 in the last two years alone.
The figures will fuel fears about the growing number of young people being radicalised by hate preachers who spread their vile message over the internet.
It is thought that close to 1,000 Britons have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight for Isis, with more than half of those later returning to the streets of Britain where they could carry out terrorist atrocities.
Ministers have vowed to challenge the "twisted narrative that has corrupted some of our vulnerable young people", whilst David Cameron has said that Britain must "de-glamourise groups like ISIS by making young people aware of the brutal reality of life in the parts of Iraq and Syria they control".
The Channel programme was set up as part of the fightback against islamist extremists following the 7/7 bombings in 2005.
Children drawing bombs and guns or writing about wanting to be a suicide bomber at school are amongst examples of youngsters who have been referred to the initiative.
About one in ten of the 834 children referred to the programme between April 2012 and June 2014 were under 12.
Amongst them was a three-year-old from Tower Hamlets, who was referred as “part of a wider family group” that had been displaying alarming behaviour.
Security Minister John Hayes said: "As a country, we have a duty to challenge, at every turn, the twisted narrative that has corrupted some of our vulnerable young people.
"Since Channel was rolled out nationally in April 2012, there have been over 4,000 referrals and hundreds of people at risk of being drawn into violent extremism have been provided with support.
"Referrals to Channel have increased since 2014 but we have dedicated sufficient resources to the programme to cope with demand. We will keep this position under close review."
The number of young people being identified will continue to rise, experts have warned, fuelled by an explosion of online Isis propaganda and the sight of British fighters taking part in the conflict in Syria.
A new statutory duty on public bodies, such as schools, hospitals and councils, to prevent people being drawn into extremism is also thought to have contributed to the surge in referrals.
Hannah Stuart, a researcher on extremism from the Henry Jackson Society think tank, said: "Channel referrals have continued to rise since the programme was introduced nationally.
"This is in part because of the growing appeal and clever marketing of jihadist ideas among young people by groups like Islamic State.
"But it's also because public bodies, particularly schools, have become increasingly aware of their safeguarding duties in terms of preventing radicalisation."
Channel involves social workers, police, medical staff and others working with adults and young people who are judged to be either vulnerable to or engaged in extremism.
The aim is to divert them away from potential violence through early intervention as part of the Government’s wider “Prevent” programme.
But shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper claimed support had been cut too far. She said: "The Government has substantially cut support for community-led action to counter extremists' lies.
"The police cant do this alone. Countering extremism is much more effective if it involves local community groups.
"We know young people are particularly at risk of radicalisation yet the Channel programme is not sufficiently resourced or prepared to manage the referrals being made."
Commander Richard Walton, the head of Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “The earlier we can intervene to prevent radicalisation the better.
"It is good that we are receiving more referrals as it shows that the people of London understand the dangers of extremism and the need to speak out.
"Everyone can play a part in keeping London safe.”
The Government's Prevent strategy has come under close scrutiny in recent months after Dal Babu, a Muslim former chief superintendent, branded it "toxic".
Meanwhile Mizanur Rahman, who was sent on a programme aimed at turning him away from extreme views, claimed he spent most of his time playing pool.
It also emerged that Brusthom Ziamani, who was jailed for 22 years for hatching a plot to behead a British soldier, had been spoken to by Prevent officers while on bail but he refused to engage with the programme.