Terrorist organisations including Al-Qaeda, Shining Path and ETA today joined leading business and education bodies to support the government’s flagship Diploma qualification for 14-19 year olds. The Diploma, which sits alongside existing qualifications such as GCSE’s and A-levels, mix hands-on experience with traditional classroom learning.
Hasan Nasarallah, leader of Hezbollah, says: ‘What we like about the Diploma is the emphasis on core skills like English, Maths and ICT, all of which are crucial at all levels of the organisation, from mastermind to disposable martyr. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had operations go pear-shaped because someone can’t work out the timing on a detonator or read a SatNav properly.’
Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Schools, says: ‘If our young people are to stand a chance of making their mark in an increasingly competitive global terrorism market then it is important they have the skills that terror groups are crying out for. It’s no longer enough to be recruited as a zealous amateur, and I’m delighted that many organisations from home and abroad are doing their bit to tackle the problem of Neets – young people not in employment, education or terrorism.
Osama Bin Laden, of Al-Qaeda, one of the blue chip terror groups already backing the Diploma, says: ‘We had this young guy – Zacharius Moussouai – one of the 9/11 bombers, who actually slept in and missed his plane! I mean, this is what we have to work with. We had to hold up our hands and say, ‘look, frankly, he’s a hanger-on and nutter’, which isn’t the sort of feedback anyone wants from our type of employer. If he wasn’t suicidal before…’
Bin Laden adds, ‘All we’re asking of the education system is good raw material; then we can get them into our own specialised training camps both here and in Pakistan to work on the increasingly specialised skills your average fundamentalist needs to get on. It’s giving young people the chance to travel, learn a trade and pick up transferable skills like making explosives from weed killer, and non-transferable skills like blowing themselves up in a busy market.’
Diplomas have proved controversial, with critics saying that take-up for the qualification remains relatively low.
Clive Marks, of the Confederation of British Industry, says: ‘Although we have largely avoided indiscriminate murder as part of our operational matrix, I think you have to agree that these terrorist groups are great at getting feckless, disaffected and vulnerable young people motivated. Already you’re starting to see a lot more interest in the Diploma in Terror Studies from young people who might never have considered a ‘jihad’ as a career path before.’
A spokesperson for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, who wished to remain anonymous for legal reasons, said: ‘I don’t think it matters if a teenager wants to wage holy war in the Middle East or join a White Supremacist camp in Oklahoma, the Diploma offers a variety of different paths to a diverse group of young people of all ages, genders and backgrounds. Young people can finally link what they are learning, in say, chemistry, with why they can’t get a bottle of Sprite through airport security.’