‘How my son turned into a terrorist.’

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“As a mum, I’ll always think … what could I have done.”

After the gut-wrenching documentory aired on Channel 10 yesterday, Sally Evans and her son Michael were on The Project tonight sharing their story, and urging other families whose children are in danger of radicalisation to seek help.

Host Carrie Bickmore told Sally Evans, “As a mum I can only imagine how devastating losing Thomas in this way is…”

You can watch The Project’s interview with Sally and Michael here:

Video by Channel 10/The Project

Thomas was killed after being involved in over 150 attacks, which killed more than 500 peole, with terrorist group Al-Shabaab

“You have good days and you have bad days,” Evans told Bickmore. “As a mum, I’ll always think what could I have done.”

“Thomas, he will always be part of our lives…but when I found out what he was doing, then I was glad he was gone.” A heartbreaking sentiment echoed by Thomas’ brother Michael. “It’s hard to say, but it’s how I feel [too],” he said.

It is difficult to imagine how Evans is able to reconcile the son she knew, with the terrorist he became.”It’s hard to put into words what I feel for them,” said Evans. “They took Thomas to go and do their dirty work.”

Sally Evans’ message to parents is clear, “Be aware. It can happen to anybody and if you’ve got concerns go to the authorities and speak to them, or go to the mosque if you are a Muslim and speak to them. They will help you.”

Mamamia previously wrote… 

How does an ordinary little boy from an ordinary loving family become a terrorist?

That was the question asked in the critically-acclaimed British documentary My Son The Jihadi which was broadcast by Channel 10 last night.

Presented by The Project’s Carrie Bickmore and Waleed Aly,  the documentary followed the story of Sally Evans and her son Thomas, who at just 21 years of age went from a pub-going electrician in Buckinghamshire, England, to an AlShabaab fighter in Somalia – plunging Sally into every mother’s worst nightmare.

Thomas is the only white British man known to have been recruited to Al-Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda affiliate and the Jihadi group behind multiple atrocities in Kenya, including the Westgate shopping centre attack in which 67 people were killed and 175 injured.

Filmed over a nine-month period by renowned documentary maker Peter Beard, My Son The Jihadi showed the daily struggle Sally and her youngest son Michael faced, as Thomas transformed from a loving, mild-mannered “normal teenage lad” into Abdul Hakim, a murderous, Jihadi-preaching terrorist.

Michael and Thomas Evans as boys.

With exclusive access, the documentary explored how Thomas was radicalised in Britain and why he turned his back on his family, telling Sally she would “burn in hell”.    When a normal, happy little boy growing up in England fled home to become a terrorist, nobody was more shocked and devastated than his own family.

The documentary puts a chill down the spine of every parent and challenges the way many of us may think people become radicalised.

Thomas began training with the terror group in Somalia just two years after converting to Islam, changing his name to Abdul Hakim and leaving his home to learn Arabic in Egypt.

Michael and Thomas Evans in happier times.

The documentary starts following Sally and her other son Michael from when they deal with Thomas’s disappearance and are waiting agonisingly to hear from him.

The footage shows Thomas’s mother looking for him and making contact with his Somali child bride.

It also shows the heart-wrenching moment Sally finds out Thomas has been killed via Twitter.

Thomas Jihad 1

“Imagine discovering the death of your child on Twitter and being both devastated and relieved,” Sally says in the documentary.

“Devastated because the child you brought into this world was killed after being brainwashed into pursuing a murderous cause, but relieved because the death of your child meant he could no longer harm innocent people.”

The show takes the audience through Thomas’s life and plots out what went so very wrong to lead him down the horrific path he chose.  It is a story that turns your gut, terrifies you and makes you aware at the same time that the process of radicalisation is not always what you think.

Sally Evans will be interviewed in an exclusive interview on The Project tonight.

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