My Son The Jihadi, TV review: From electrician in High Wycombe to Al-Shabaab fighter in Somalia

The Channel 4 documentary told the powerful story of a vulnerable boy who became radicalised

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The Independent Culture

My Son the Jihadi was a powerful real-life story of confused identities. Why Channel 4 insists on giving its public service programmes such trashy titles defeats me, but, anyway, this was the compelling account of how Thomas Evans went from pub-going electrician in High Wycombe to Al-Shabaab fighter in Somalia, complete with 13-year-old bride and big hunting-for-infidels knife.

There were some clues; a vulnerable boy in trouble with the law; he lost his job after converting to Islam, growing a beard and developing attitude problems, thus giving him a grievance; and getting another job "through the mosque", a teenage lad looking for a group to join. Usually in High Wycombe it's the local mods or emos; for Thomas it was the al-Qaeda affiliate in East Africa.

After four years and four days away, his mum discovered on Twitter that he had been shot dead by the Kenyan army during a terror raid, but not before he'd slit a few throats. The only point of hope was the bravery of his mother, Sally Thomas, and the activities of Mike Jervis, a sort of jihadi-buster who has successfully deradicalised 37 young terrorists.

In one of Thomas's last calls to his mum, she told him she'd been worried he had died in yet another terror attack, to which he replied, with impeccably twisted logic: "Well, I wouldn't be on the phone to you, would I? 'Cos they don't have phones in paradise." No one can write dialogue like that.

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