Prisons around Europe are turning into breeding grounds for jihadist groups with a number of criminals seeing this form of violent extremism as a way to be redeemed for crimes they have committed.
The emergence of ISIS has strengthened the link between terrorism and crime, according to a report which had examined the profiles of multiple European jihadists who have been recruited since 2011.
Instead of looking for religious establishments or universities, ISIS turns to prisons, under classes, and ghettos for recruiting individuals who are known for their criminal behavior.
Prisons are the best place to find angry, young men who are ready for radicalization as per the study.
Peter Neumann, the director of the ICSR, one of the author’s of this report, said that the lines between jihadist groups and crime were getting blurred.
Prison is an important place where lots of networking is happening. Given how terrorism-related convictions and even arrests have increased recently, it is certain that prisons are going to become a more significant as a breeding ground for the jihadist movement.
Recruiting inside prisons also lets jihadist groups tap transferable skills, including self-financing through crime and familiarity with weapons.
Researchers from ICSR, compile the profile of 79 jihadists from Europe with criminal pasts in Netherlands, Germany, France, Denmark, Britain, and Belgium. All of them have been involved in terrorist plots within Europe.
In the last five years, an estimate of five thousand Western Europeans have visited the Middle East for joining jihadist groups like ISIS.
Of these people studied, 57% had been in prison before getting radicalized, and at least 27% of them were radicalized when in prison.
For some of them, this offered a type of redemption for crimes according to researchers.
Many of these people have been convicted of violent crimes, so becoming violent extremists isn’t too big a change for them. This is a warning sign for the entire world.