The boy's teachers were growing increasingly concerned. He was speaking admiringly in school of Jihadi John, the notorious British executioner with the Islamic State, and expressing a desire to travel to Syria.

Twice, the teachers referred the boy — a teenager from Blackburn, in northern England — to a government program called Prevent, which was set up to spot early signs of extremism and intervene before it was too late.

On both occasions, the boy — struggling with his studies after his parents separated and socially withdrawn because of a degenerative eye disease that blurred his vision — refused to participate in sessions intended to keep him from becoming radicalized.

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