A New Zealand mother is calling for a stronger support network in light of her son's death after joining Islamic State (ISIS).

Karolina Dam, formerly of Auckland but now living in Denmark, said her 18-year-old son Lukas died in December during an American air strike on a building he was guarding on the Syria-Turkey border.

Ms Dam found out about her son's death from a Facebook message posted by fellow Islamists celebrating his "martyrdom".

She said more needs to be done worldwide to save families from what she is going through.


"I can't do anything about it now, except to try to prevent it from happening again. And that would be in the spirit of my son. That's what I need to do," she told Radio New Zealand.

Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand spokesperson Dr Anwar Ghani said the organisation was putting together a proposal for a de-radicalisation programme and would like government support.

It was also talking to organisations worldwide about combating extremist activities, Dr Ghani said.

The internet was a dangerous tool used by organisations like ISIS to engage young people, he said.

"We don't have any structured programmes but what is happening is we're making the community more aware and informing them there are dangers of organisations like ISIS.

"New Zealand is a safe and secure place but the influence from outside is what we need to watch out for. We are going in the right direction."

Prime Minister John Key said in a press conference today he was aware of around 10 families contacting police about concerns a person was becoming radicalised.

Political scientist Paul Buchanan said a stronger de-radicalisation programme would be useful in New Zealand.


Radicals often worked on separating the young men from their families, in particular their mothers, to convert them, he said.

Shy, introverted young teenagers were often the target group and parents should watch out for signs of their child becoming more withdrawn, less communicative and making friends with a new crowd, he said.

"It's very similar to all those signs that we think need to be heeded when it comes to kids and drugs.

"If there's one person in New Zealand who is radicalised and wants to commit acts of violence here or go fight for a cause that's one too many. It's not for the cops to do, it needs to be a community outreach."

University of Otago International Relations professor Robert Patman said the threats to New Zealand were relatively low-level but there was no room for complacency.

The government had the ability to cancel a passport on national security grounds for up to three years, he said.

"My heart goes out for the parents because it must be, like in the case of Karolina Dam in Copenhagen, it's very difficult to stop people once they have that motivation.

"One of the things that people lose sight of is that the struggle with terrorism is a political one...the authorities are able to help concerned parents but it seems like more of an ad hoc, informal arrangement."