Now what: Take concrete steps to solve the problem of prison “radicalization,” or wait for another study to come out? The path of least resistance won’t work forever.
“Jailed extremists ‘are free to recruit’,” from ITN, October 6:
Jailed extremists are free to brainwash potential recruits in prison, a report has warned.
The above sentence is an instructive example in how a choice of words can be employed in an attempt to slip some assumptions under the radar unchallenged. And it highlights the problem of pinning down who qualifies as “moderate” and who is “extreme” in the first place.
It said that there is lack of resources to monitor them, adding that prison officials concentrate on watching convicted Islamist terrorists and ignore radicals convicted of lesser offences.
Dr Peter Neumann from King’s College London said governments across Europe should observe prisons more closely in the future as they were likely to become “major hubs” for terrorist recruitment.
He suggested creating “jihadist prisons” in which to isolate Islamist militants from other prisoners, while warning such a policy would allow governments to be portrayed as “anti-Muslim”.
He says: “The prison systems have no capacity to control the activities of those convicted for lesser offences, some of whom are certain to engage in radicalisation and recruitment amongst the general prison population.
“Yet, in our view, it is precisely this second category of prisoners…that would merit the greatest attention.”
The authors found prison officers lack the training to monitor radical imams who teach in a foreign language.
A special branch officer interviewed for the report said Islamist militants are regarded as “heroes” once they were jailed.
Is that before or after the “brainwashing?”
Radicals are also targeting “vulnerable” asylum seekers and Muslim welfare agencies, the report found.
The rise of prisons as centres of extremism has followed a crackdown on recruitment inside mosques, the authors found.
Extremist recruiters have been forced out of mosques and on to the internet or “underground” by police, the security services and the vigilance of the mainstream Muslim community.
The report, Recruitment and Mobilisation for the Islamist Militant Movement in Europe, was carried out for the European Commission.