Latest weapon in fight against home-grown terrorism … satire

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SATIRICAL films such as Chris Morris's Four Lions should be used as a weapon to undermine homegrown terrorism.

Terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda must be "deglamorised" and shown to be "incompetent, narcissistic and irreligious", according to a study by think-tank Demos. The film from the creator of Brass Eye, which depicts a hapless gang of would-be suicide bombers, should be used to show jihad is not "cool", the report said.

The study, including interviews with 58 violent radicals, found young Muslims were drawn into terrorism for the same reason gang members and football hooligans are attracted to violence. The authors said a typical recruit is likely to have little in the way of religious upbringing and a poor understanding of Islam.

They said the "Islam is Peace" message was not working and should be dropped.

Jamie Bartlett, co-author of the report, said: "Young people are drawn to radical causes, and to rebellion against authority.

"For most radical young Muslims, this takes the forms of protest, argument and learning – but for a minority, al-Qaeda might seem a 'cool' gang to join, even though the truth is that its members are ignorant and incompetent. This does not make it any less serious or dangerous. Terrorist activity amounts, all too often, to teenage kicks that kill.

"The trick for western governments is to welcome non-violent forms of radicalism – indeed to provide opportunities for young Muslims to engage in exciting, 'radical' activities, such as overseas volunteering – while maintaining a zero-tolerance attitude to violence and terrorism."

The Edge of Violence report is based on a two-year international study that involved interviews with radicals, young Muslims and experts in the UK, Canada, Denmark, France and the Netherlands.

A Demos spokesman said: "It is possible for Muslims to read radical texts, be strongly and vocally opposed to western foreign policy, believe in Sharia law, hope for the restoration of the Caliphate and even support the principle of Afghan and Iraqi Muslims fighting allied troops, while being extremely vocal in denouncing al-Qaeda-inspired terrorism in Western countries."