A MAN who admitted touring Pakistan to sign up recruits for an extremist Islamic group has returned to spread a more peaceful message.

Maajid Nawaz, 32, a former pupil at Westcliff High School for Boys, had to wear a bulletproof vest during his trip because of a threat to his personal safety, after renouncing his beliefs.

He spent four years in an Egyptian prison after being caught peddling the views of extreme Islamic organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir, which seeks to establish an Islamic state across the Middle East.

Mr Nawaz not only pushed his views in the UK, but also travelled undercover in Pakistan as an agent of the organisation, infiltrating universities and working to win recruits.

His aim, he says, was to overthrow democratically elected governments and establish a worldwide government of Islam.

In 2007, he renounced his beliefs, telling the Echo his time in jail had allowed him to study Islamic literature properly and learn its real message of peace.

Mr Nawaz was followed by the BBC’s Newsnight as he returned to Pakistan. He targeted the universities and religious seminaries and schools, which, according to Pakistani police, spawn the majority of Jihadist suicide bombers.

He criss-crossed Pakistan, visiting cities including Quetta, Karachi, Lahore and Mirpur, giving speeches about peace.

Mr Nawaz said: “I’ve had people tell me there’s no extremism in Pakistan, but that contrasts with what the majority are saying.

“My hope is to come here with others, and together help to start a civil society and to reclaim Islam for both the UK and for Pakistan.”

Mr Nawaz has given talks to pupils at his former school and has co-founded the Quilliam foundation, which fights against the radicalisation of young Muslims.