The prisons of Europe have become a breeding ground for Jihadist networks which favour the recruitment of “ready-to-use” criminals, says a British study published Tuesday. The emergence of the Islamic State group has reinforced links between terrorism and criminality, emphasized the study, carried out by International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation of Political Violence (ICSR). And extremist organizations are opting more and more for the European “ghettos” instead of for religious schools, since they allow finding expert candidates who already have criminal backgrounds.
Prisons in particular are a haven of “angry young men” who are “ready to go to work.” “We observe that radicalization has become quicker and quicker in prison. Having been incarcerated for violent crimes makes it easier to go on to violent extremism,” emphasized Peter Neumann, Director of ICSR and co-author of the report. According to the study, familiarity of some convicts with weapons and underground funding networks contribute towards this trend.
In support of their study, researchers of ICSR, based at King’s College, London, looked into the profiles of 79 European Jihadists who went abroad to fight or were involved in acts of terrorism in Europe. The persons came from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Great Britain. Of those studied by ICSR, 57% had been in prison prior to their radicalization and at least 27% of those incarcerated became radical while behind bars.