the Foreign Office has been accused of wasting taxpayers’ money on an animated film designed to stop Muslim teenagers from becoming Islamic extremists.
Officials have spent about £33,000 on Wish You Waziristan, a cautionary tale of two young British Muslim brothers who decide to join a group of Islamic fighters on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
But critics, including members of the Muslim community, have questioned the wisdom of the film, which has been branded naive and simplistic.
The cartoon, which combines computer game-style graphics and teenage street slang, opens with a failed attempt by the brothers to launch a grenade from a mountain-top in the Waziristan region of Pakistan.
It then switches into flashback mode and viewers learn how the pair got to an extremists’ training camp from their home in Britain.
The story is told from the point of view of the unnamed younger brother, who has little time for the cause and has agreed to become involved only out of respect for his older brother Abu.
Abu’s journey on the road to extremism begins when he is just 11 years old and he and two white friends are targeted by racists while they are playing football on a beach.
The brothers are then shown watching a series of training videos featuring Osama Bin Laden before joining the fighters in Waziristan.
The younger brother says the videos are like the computer game Call Of Duty ‘but boring’.
Gun ordeal: The brothers are shocked by their reception in Wazirstan
Misguided: In the 'terror training' the young Muslims try boxing as they condition themselves to become Islamic fighters
He is also unimpressed by their new home in the Pakistan and the warmth of the welcome they receive.
He says: 'When we got there I was thinking, ‘‘Bro, are we in the right place?’’
'The first thing they did was lock us up and start interrogating us. They told me they were just precautions and not to take it personally.
'But to be honest, when a fat guy has got his hand up your ****, it’s pretty personal.'
Following the failure of the grenade-launching mission, the brothers return to the UK, only to be arrested. The film ends with Abu writing to his brother asking for forgiveness.
Misguided: Muslim leaders have branded the film 'naive and simplistic'
Leading members of the Muslim community welcomed the attempt to reach out to teenagers but questioned the wisdom of the film.
Dr Mohammad Shahid Raza, an imam at Leicester Central Mosque, said: ‘The film sounds naive and simplistic. The descriptions of the fighters the brothers encounter are particularly unrealistic.’
Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, the founder of the Muslim Institute think-tank believes the film would have been more effective if it had confined itself to the issue of the racism.
‘It should have asked its audience to concentrate on that rather than going off at a tangent,’ he added. ‘What follows is a waste of time.’
Last night, a Foreign Office spokeswoman said the film had been commissioned by the Labour Government in 2009. She said the total production budget was about £33,000.
The film has been produced by a company called Bold Creative, which specialises in educational films aimed at teenagers.
In the past it has made videos about hygiene and healthy eating. No one from the firm was available for comment last night.
The cartoon is being supported by a viral marketing campaign which is playing on YouTube.