Lonely and vulnerable: What led UK filmmaker’s kin to Muslim extremism

News this week of the death of Douglas McCain, an American who joined the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and was killed in Syria, has hit close to home for Robb Leech. The British filmmaker’s stepbrother, Richard Dart, turned to Islamist extremism in 2009, and was convicted in England for plotting to commit terrorist acts in 2012, but Leech never thought of abandoning him. Instead, he turned on his cameras and delved into the militant community to learn more. The result was two documentaries: “My Brother the Islamist” and “My Brother the Terrorist.” He shares his insights with Yahoo News and Finance Anchor Bianna Golodryga.

He was probably vulnerable. He was probably quite lonely. He definitely was on his own journey to make sense of the world and to find meaning in life.

Robb Leech, about his stepbrother, convicted terrorist Richard Dart

Americans and Europeans have become increasingly concerned to hear of members of their own countries who have turned away from Western society and joined extremist groups such as ISIL. Reports that the man who killed American journalist James Foley might have been a British national have fuelled fears that terrorists could be living among friends and neighbours in Western nations. ISIL has capitalised on its appeal to lost youth and has taken to social media to enlist recruits. Leech believes that ISIL may even use Westerners for high-profile activities as a form of propaganda, particularly in the case of Foley’s execution.