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You can’t deradicalise every terrorist Too many jihadis treat rehabilitation with contempt

The London Bridge attacker was undergoing 'deradicalisation'. Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images

The London Bridge attacker was undergoing 'deradicalisation'. Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images


March 31, 2021   5 mins

Can terrorists be “deprogrammed”? It is one of the most daunting and complex questions facing European states today, and one of the most urgent. Just a few years ago, over 40,000 people from 80 different countries were attracted to Islamic State’s expanding tyranny in Iraq and Syria. Today, as the “Caliphate” they dreamed would last until the end times lies in rubble, close to 2,000 have returned to Europe, including some 450 to Britain.

Combined with a burgeoning, noisy and influential extremist contingent in our prisons, they form a UK jihadist population larger than ever before. Some will have returned disillusioned, others will be battle-hardened and trained. Some, as my own research shows, will have committed war crimes but freely walk the streets, able to update their LinkedIn profiles and pick up their lives like nothing happened.

So, even as attention turns elsewhere and despite the horrors already suffered, it’s likely the challenges posed by jihadism lie ahead rather than behind us. All of this makes the question of whether terrorists can change an urgent one. The short answer is yes. Of course they can. Because people leave terrorist groups all the time, and for all sorts of different reasons. The question of whether this can be replicated by the state or some other institution is quite another matter — one for which evidence is scarce, as underlined by the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation last week.

Cambridge University’s Learning Together programme believed that terrorists could change. Perhaps this belief, their desire to believe, misled them into the ultimately fatal trap of including Usman Khan, who would go on to slay those who sought only to help him late in 2019. Khan, a convicted terrorist who plotted to blow up the London Stock Exchange, was a participant in two separate state “deradicalisation” programmes before joining Learning Together. Did Khan hate them for believing in him? Was he lashing out at the very idea of terrorist rehabilitation itself, in a spectacular act of bloody ridicule? He wanted to be a glorious martyr, instead he found himself in conference workshops with lukewarm tea and flipcharts. It’s not hard to imagine his disdain and frustration.

It wouldn’t be the first or last time terrorists sneered at such schemes. The independent reviewer, Jonathan Hall QC, reported how some extremists in prison wore headphones, pretended to sleep, or took extended toilet breaks to disrupt sessions with mentors.

A French jihadist “returnee” told journalist David Thomson of her amused contempt for her deradicalisation programme: how they spoke to her like an alcoholic and combed her past for the traumatic event which must have “pushed” her towards Islamic State. And in a scene straight from the mind of Chris Morris, academic Hugo Micheron described how jihadists — some suspected of the most serious crimes — were encouraged to stroke a ferret in workshops in order to connect with “otherness” and the value of life.

A vein of supposed wisdom runs through counterterrorism policy which imagines terrorists not as moral, intellectual agents of their own destiny, but as mere entities “pushed” or “driven” to violence by structural factors above and beyond their control; or as vulnerable minds transformed by nefarious online radicalisers.

And if confusion over radicalisation persists, its implications for deradicalisation are significant. The Atlantic’s Graeme Wood recently remarked on the peculiarity of holding deradicalisation as though symmetrical to radicalisation, as if the process could simply be reversed by authorities. The reality is quite different, “because deradicalization happens against the subject’s will in many cases, at the insistence of the government, and radicalization is organic and voluntary.”

Advocates of deradicalisation point to the thousands of individuals who leave extremist groups or who do not reoffend as evidence of its promise. But this tells us little about deradicalisation schemes. It doesn’t tell us whether they didn’t reoffend because of state intervention, and it doesn’t tell us anything about changes in belief. It is perfectly possible of course, to exist peacefully in society while remaining deeply committed to a violent extremist worldview.

In the United Kingdom, the emphasis in official schemes has pivoted towards the more modest objective of disengagement from terror, rather than deradicalisation. As Jonathan Hall puts it: “a tacit recognition that seeking to change a person’s beliefs is a perilous endeavour.” Still, the Government’s official Desistance and Disengagement Programme (DDP) — in which Usman Khan was a participant — does seek to “tackle the drivers of radicalisation”, and includes theological and ideological mentoring.

DDP participants are required to meet with mentors twice a week, practical and theological. The challenge here is whether these few hours can pierce the deep bonds developed between extremists, some now forged on the battlefield. These bonds are more than mere loyalty to mates, they inform the development of independent moral matrixes, for as Jonathan Haidt puts it: Morality binds and morality blinds.

Animals build nests but humans build communities of mutual cooperation and defence based on shared morals, which we populate with gods, rituals and symbolism around which to unify. It’s why we get so heated over anthems and flags — or cartoons. It’s also why we reserve some of our strictest judgement for traitors and apostates.

From the inside of these distinct moral matrixes, radicals do not see themselves as such. Surrounded every day by individuals who think and act like them, it is the outside world that appears extreme, twisted and hateful. For many, their life before adopting Salafi-Jihadism was their radical phase, full as it was with ignorance and sin. Their turn to piety, while extreme to the rest of us, is the straight and narrow. What’s more, as European Islamism comes of age, more and more individuals will emerge — like the Abedi brothers — who were effectively born into a radical environment, not necessarily radicalised as conventionally understood.

One thing a mentor needs to pierce this alternative moral universe is credibility, and this is hard for a Government agency to come by. My friend Manwar Ali is a mentor; a kind, softly spoken, patriotic, intelligent and erudite man, he is emotionally invested in his work and it shows. He is also a former mujahid who fought in Afghanistan. Investing all the money we like into deradicalisation won’t produce another dozen mentors like him. His experiences and expertise, the things to which his credibility is owed, are unique.

The optimist thinks everyone deserves a second chance, that everyone can be saved. But even if they can, not everyone deserves to be. The optimist’s view is inappropriate for men like El Shafee Elsheikh or Alexanda Kotey, the unrepentant Islamic State jailers from West London, accused of the torture and humiliation of hostages. The optimist must accept that men like this exist. We should reserve the right to say that some crimes are so unforgivable, and some individuals so dangerous, that punishment and separation are the only appropriate response.

The pessimist doesn’t think terrorists can change, and would see everyone on terrorism offences locked up and the key thrown away. The first part isn’t true and the second part is inhumane and untenable, denying people the second chance to make a meaningful contribution to society. Most extremists are in a different league to El Sheikh, Kotey or the Abedi brothers, and a different response is needed.

By most accounts, the overwhelming majority of terrorists do not reoffend, but the consequences of those few reoffenders can horrify, destabilise, inflame and undermine state monopoly on violence unlike ordinary crime. While those who disengage but do not deradicalise can pose challenges in other ways: Europe’s first generations of militant Islamists did not attack at home but helped to socialise a bigger, more radical generation. A network of Libyan extremists put their roots down in Manchester decades ago. In 2017, their impact echoed dreadfully in the lobby of Manchester Arena.

For these reasons, we must try to deradicalise. But it is recognising the sincere from the insincere — as Usman Khan ultimately proved — which may be the even more formidable challenge. It’s unlikely we’ll truly know if our efforts to deradicalise are successful for many years, but if deradicalisation is to work it must respect the agency of the terrorists, as well as the intellectual and spiritual potency of their worldview.

It must recognise that it is not just changing beliefs, but an attempt to dismantle a competing moral universe, one powerfully anchored in an interpretation of scripture. But to avoid future catastrophe, it must also recognise that the pale exists, and that some individuals are simply beyond it.


Liam Duffy is a researcher, speaker and trainer in counter-terrorism based in London.

LiamSD12

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Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
3 years ago

For these reasons, we must try to deradicalise.

Must we? Or we could set about reversing decades’ worth of faulty immigration policies instead, and repatriating the problem where it originated from (and where it belongs to).
Deradicalisation is a costly and largely futile endeavour. An experiment which should have been aborted long ago.

George Bruce
George Bruce
3 years ago

The repatriation thing is way too sensible, Johannes, and is off limits for discussion.

Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
3 years ago
Reply to  George Bruce

And there’s the problem, George, with the off limits. There’s no place for taboos in a supposedly ‘enlightened’, secular society in the 21st century. At this rate of regression we are heading towards blasphemy laws, and at the end crawling back into the primordial soup whence we came from as protozoa.
(Not that mere discussion would solve a thing at this point, it’s action what is needed.)

JP Martin
JP Martin
3 years ago

The limits only apply in one direction. If you want to advocate for shariah in the UK no one will stop you. But raise the very sensible idea of deporting the enemies in our midst for our own protection and you will be denounced as a villain.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
3 years ago
Reply to  JP Martin

Quite so, but I sense – at last – a bit of a change. Straws in the wind, maybe, but the officers of the left elite are beginning to realise that their propaganda ain’t working no more. Welby, our spineless Archbishop, has peeped over the parapet to contradict Markle; the Sunday Times art critic – an unrepentant sado-modernist – has recently declared that art must become more “real” and less experimental; and the government’s recent report on race relations condemns the “woke” agenda. It’s not much, but there is a sense of “row-back” from the extremes of “BLM” and “Antifa”. On the other side, in the bunkers and trenches of the once silent and now silenced “majority” – there is continual questioning of the official version of events. People openly wonder whether calling Marine Le Pen “far right” is accurate. They note with indignation the differential treatment afforded to various protest groups. They roll their eyes in contempt when people scream and shout about prejudice. The left has prodded and poked and goaded the public for so long that it is stirring slowly and belatedly into a response. One might even reference dear old Thermidor…

JP Martin
JP Martin
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Your optimism is inspiring but the challenge is formidable!

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
3 years ago
Reply to  JP Martin

Agreed.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Some interesting straws in the wind, perhaps. But by the time the intellectual mood has shifted so much damage has been done, much of it is irreversible. Even Thatcher was only able to overturn it to a limited degree. And the country is now home to millions of people who hate the West and its freedoms, and we are stuck with those people.

Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

It’s a run against time.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Also has a justice system who seem to think the aggressor is the victim. Either society or western society is always responsible -look at some of the reactions in the media after each event-we must show more understanding and sensitivity,light candles and group hugs.

David Brown
David Brown
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Marine le Pen is not her father. He was an extremist. I’m not so sure about her, but her name counts against her with the bien pensant.

Last edited 3 years ago by David Brown
Simon Denis
Simon Denis
3 years ago
Reply to  David Brown

Well, the “bien pensant” these days are either so deluded or so cowardly that they will seize on any excuse. Several Labour politicians have not only had extremist parents, they have been extremists themselves; the actual leader of the party during the general election was a known apologist for terror and associated with supporters of the Soviet compound.
Matthew Arnold identified an ossification of political thought among his contemporaries in “Culture and Anarchy”; the same is true of the educated class today. Fixated on avoiding the crimes of 30s Germany, it has blinded itself to the crimes of 20s, 30s and 40s Russia and run so far into hard left territory of its own that it risks a whole new range of disaster and injustice. As Arnold pointed out, the key blunder is an absence of balance, of restraint, of careful enquiry; in short, of “criticism”.
The worst of it is that the problems thrown up by this rigid, hysterical, self-infatuated policy are all but intractable and its baleful results – social division, the terrorist threat, reduced liberty – will be with us indefinitely.

Armand L
Armand L
3 years ago

The UK has plenty of home grown, British passport, football loving extremists of its own. Unless you want to state outright that you believe in the ethnostate, your criticisms of immigrants are unfounded and pointless.

It’s the ideology that’s problematic, and plenty of born here Britons fall for it.

Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
3 years ago
Reply to  Armand L

Care to tell us when was it the last time those “football loving extremists” pulled off any violent act? (No, throwing bacon at a mosque is NOT terrorism.)
I’m a foreigner (immigrant) myself, and being a woman i like football no more than i like sharia or the black death, yet i have a newfound appreciation for the football lads. Even for the chavs. They are the salt of the Earth, them chavs.
As for the ethnostate: it is entirely possible to have a diverse, multiethnic society comprising MANY but not ALL ethnicities. Indiscriminate acceptance is the problem, not the multikulti.

Last edited 3 years ago by Johannes Kreisler
Natalija Svobodné
Natalija Svobodné
3 years ago
Reply to  Armand L

Extremist soccer fans share more western ideals of a secular democracy and equal human rights than any islamic extremist ever will!
They believe in free speech more than the illiberal left!. They have no problem with equality of their women. or indeed any other secular based law! Religion; I doubt they care less! Race – soccer is talent based many races play, Homosexuality, they have gay players – and they don’t throw them from buildings, or deem them to burn in hell… Blasphemy? They love to! Just watch for any missed goal!
I don’t remember the last time A soccer player beheaded anyone in the street with a machete…Killed someone’s grandma in retaliation for an obstructed ball, Or machine gunned a newspaper publisher for drawing the ball… Some can be thugs agreed. But not in the realm of religiously justified thuggery, which is far harder to de-program.
Also they won’t try to stone me for my atheism, give me half my worth and rights as a women, or require three witnesses if raped, deduct from property law and other shenanigans…
As for ethno state argument that’s false reasoning on your part – anyone from any ethnicity can come, of course they are welcome if they are skilled, have talent and can work in a modern industrial based society!
But the culture of equal human rights regardless of sex, race or religion and from religion must remain! That is the heart of a western secular democratic society! Equality as a human and the right to free speech! And the responsibility for every citizen to uphold.
Don’t conflate race with culture they are separate! There are plenty of other people of other ethnicities that believe just as strongly on equality and freedom of speech, freedom from religion! (They get hacked to death too, or put in jail for those beliefs on freedom Raif Bandawi etc)
Those are not “white ideas” So don’t be tempted to support a backward separatist extremist view of a vocal minority! We all lose when laws are weakened to accommodate those unable to assimilate to modern human rights.
Still not sure… check out pew polls and views on stoning women and atheists. And take a breath to understand we don’t need to import those kind of values! Because what is a minority here – is a majority there!
eight-in-ten Muslims in Egypt and Pakistan (82% each) endorse the stoning of people who commit adultery;
https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2011/01/18/stoning-adulterers/
https://www.pewforum.org/2013/04/30/the-worlds-muslims-religion-politics-society-beliefs-about-sharia/

Last edited 3 years ago by Natalija Svobodné
A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago
Reply to  Armand L

Have you compared football hooliganism to terrorism?
Here are two events in French seaside cities which you can judge for yourself the difference:
In Marseille:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/43217083
And Nice:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_Nice_truck_attack

Clue: one was a large crowd of idiots who had a fight leaving 32 people injured.
The other was where an individual who mowed down more than 500 men women and children indiscriminately killing 87 and injuring over 400.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
3 years ago

Deporting them to where, exactly? If they are foreign-born, I entirely agree, but most of our domestic Islamist extremists are precisely that, British citizens, and other countries would perfectly reasonably refuse to admit them.

Last edited 3 years ago by Andrew Fisher
Frederick B
Frederick B
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

South Georgia – for life. British territory so we can do it, if we want to do it. Hard luck on the penguins and seals but no humans live there for the jihadis to bother. It might put Argentina off another attempt on our South Atlantic possessions if they knew they had to take custody of thousands of Islamists.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

All sensible people have known for years that you can’t deprogram these people. We can’t even deprogram Guardian writers and BBC journalists etc, so you’ve got no chance with these people.

Armand L
Armand L
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Can you deprogram Tory warhawks who openly advocate for arming and funding “rebel groups” in Libya and Syria?

What about HM military and special forces who are actually in the driver’s seat with the terrorism in Yemen?

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Armand L

We should not be in Yemen and ISIS supporters should not be here. It was Obama who gave the Saudis the green light to go into Yemen, with the help of US arms. In general it is the Democrats in the US who arm and fund rebel groups in the ME. It was Blair who was responsible for sending our troops into Iraq and Afghanistan. Yes, the Tories were in power here for Libya, but it was driven mainly by Hillary Clinton. To the extent that there are ‘Tory warhawks’ they are as nothing compared to war mongers like Bush, Blair, Obama, Clinton and Biden.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Spot on.

Natalija Svobodné
Natalija Svobodné
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I was against all of those wars because they are just continuations of historical power struggles – with the saudis manipulating the west through oil dependancy to be involved. (without the consensus of its citizens I might add!)
Idrisid Emirate Rebellion (1931–1933) Beginning of the Saudi Yemin war
War after war, because largely of religious intolerance. Tribal competition or Inter-family dynastic greed. Poor human rights along with slavery that still exists in Yemen. (Although it was abolished in Yemen in 1962 – 97 years after the US)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_Yemeni_history

Last edited 3 years ago by Natalija Svobodné
TERRY JESSOP
TERRY JESSOP
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

O.K. – You can’t de-program Guardian writers and BBC journalists, but then that is not such a crucial problem, because they aren’t going around killing people. (God, I never thought I would be defending the Guardian and BBC mob). On the other hand, I am not too concerned about jihadists either, for the same reason that my old Criminology lecturer told us, fifty years ago, not to be too worried about surging juvenile delinquency and youth crime. That is, for the simple reason that they out-grow it. Jihad, like juvenile crime, is a game for fit, young people. Also, it was a bit of a fad – Arab spring and all that, which was largely promoted by President Obama. That was two Presidents ago. I get the sense that the zeitgeist has now moved on. (Hula-Hoops was also a craze at one time, but you don’t see many Hula-Hoops any more). When the jihadists who went off to play holy war in Syria, get to be middle-aged, then I will bet that most of them couldn’t be bothered any more. Which, by the way, is a good reason to keep them locked up for a long time, until they do become middle aged.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  TERRY JESSOP

“Arab spring and all that, which was largely promoted by President Obama. That was two Presidents ago. I get the sense that the zeitgeist has now moved on.”
how does Joe Biden represent “moving on” from Obama’s Mideast policy failure?

Natalija Svobodné
Natalija Svobodné
3 years ago

Arab spring – a product of the west? What, you don’t think the population wouldn’t want freedom from religion and human rights all by themselves? Like real people would?
Just looking at the timeline of those countries there is rebellion after rebellion – because of religion or overly dictatorial tyrants who kill and lock people up on a whim…because of lack of equal human rights.
Yemen only made slavery illegal in 1962. How do those attitudes flow down through the nation? and effect those wishing to work for better pay, (against those that are working for free, This depresses any chance of improving life’s conditions) Would people receive fair treatment in a society that functions that way? How is fairness thought of ? (It’s not all of the west’s fault you know, in-fact it was only the west that made slavery illegal! – and forced every other non western nation to comply! – It’s not by coincidence that treaties against slavery are all ratified around 1850’s or later!)
I’m not surprised those countries are in turmoil, the young there are catching on to the idea of equal human rights and want to see a fairer and more equal society unlike their leaders, Change needs to come. So they can live up to their full potential.

Last edited 3 years ago by Natalija Svobodné
Alison Houston
Alison Houston
3 years ago

“A network of Libyan extremists put their roots down in Manchester decades ago. In 2017, their impact echoed dreadfully in the lobby of Manchester Arena.”

Why have you written this so passively? Those Libyan extremists did not choose Manchester or even England, they were recruited by our ‘intelligence’ and ‘security’ agencies precisely because they were sufficiently extreme to take on Gaddafi. They were then given refuge and encouraged to settle here. The stupid notion that the extremist enemy of our enemy is our friend is ultimately responsible for most of the terrorism of recent years, see Afghanistan and 9/11. Before that the stupid, but highly influential ideas of Jean Paul Satre who put an academic, philosophical shine on extreme violence and guerrilla tactics must never be forgot.

If the secret services and Machiavellian politicians had not stirred up one hornets nest after another since the end of the war , there would not be this endless supply of bitter extremists wanting to get even. And if ordinary people were in charge then the politicians and
intelligence agents would have been hanged alongside the terrorists and probably the smarmy intellectuals who condone terrorism.

Last edited 3 years ago by Alison Houston
Armand L
Armand L
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

Well said Alison. I suspect Liam doesn’t mean to obfuscate this fact but simply doesn’t want to tackle it in his overarching argument about deradicalization.

That NATO is (hardly) reaping what it has sown should be better known. The Manchester bombing wouldn’t have happened had the UK not made 100x as much terrorism in Libya.

The leading Islamic terrorists of the world, by provenance, are the US, UK, France and their allies in the Persian Gulf and NATO.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Armand L

‘The Manchester bombing wouldn’t have happened had the UK not made 100x as much terrorism in Libya.’
But the parents of the Manchester bombers were people who opposed Gadaffi, and we game them sanctuary on that basis. They were handed all manner of welfare etc and their sons used that money to buy the materials that killed our children. We are literally paying for our own destruction, as I have pointed out countless times.

Natalija Svobodné
Natalija Svobodné
3 years ago
Reply to  Armand L

Reaping what you sew… I wouldn’t encourage that idea as a justification for violence! Considering the Ottoman empire, Northern africa and barbary coast pirates plundered Europe and the UK for 300 years for slaves. Selling the last white Europeans in egypt well after blacks got freedom in the US! And taking more slaves than europeans ever did to Africa!
The Ottomans took so many Slavs that the word slave is named for them.
Retribution never produced anything of value, just more suffering.
THOMAS SOWELL – THE REAL HISTORY OF SLAVERY https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWrfjUzYvPo
*Anglo-egyptian Treaty of August 4th 1877 prohibited the continued sale of white slaves in Egypt after August 3rd 1885
*American Emancipation of Slaves 1863

Last edited 3 years ago by Natalija Svobodné
Michael Cowling
Michael Cowling
3 years ago

Actually, the people who enslaved the Slavs were not always “the Ottomans”. The Magyars were pretty good at it too. The “Ottomans” started around 1400. And presumably many others before them, as the word “sclavus” is recorded in Latin in around 800 and in Byzantine Greek σÎșλΏÎČÎżÏ‚ even earlier.

Alex Delszsen
Alex Delszsen
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

Too late. They will never forgive. Sunni and Shia are still at it, BLM still prosecutes for slavery. Hm. If “racial memory of enslavement” is a thing, there should be a lot of beef against Romans. Ottomans, Vikings… Peoples coalesce remembering persecution. Heck, even countries use these memories. The transnationals, though, get to be the “Amazons” of grievance coalescion.

Natalija Svobodné
Natalija Svobodné
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Delszsen

Even the slavery internally within countries, in the uk indentured workers owned by estates
UK serfdom.
In England, the end of serfdom began with the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381. It had largely died out in England by 1500 as a personal status and was fully ended when Elizabeth I freed the last remaining serfs in 1574.[5] Land held by serf tenure (unless enfranchised) continued to be held by what was thenceforth known as a copyhold tenancy, which was not completely abolished until 1925 (although it was whittled away during the 19th and early 20th centuries). There were Scottish born serfs until 1799, when salt and coal miners who were kept in serfdom gained emancipation.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_serfdom
The incredibly one sided view of slavery in the media is purely for ideological reasons. Time people learnt history! And fought back these ideas.

Last edited 3 years ago by Natalija Svobodné
ian k
ian k
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

Sartre and Fanon were writing about the justification for using violence to resist violent oppression, specifically in the context of the Algerian war against French colonialism. This is perfectly justifiable. Are you suggesting, for example, that it was wrong for the French Resistance to kill Germans during WW2, a similar situation?
Leaving aside the swamp of bitterness and hatred engendered from the wars in that region in the last 20 odd years. the jihadi movements basically seek to impose their beliefs by force and not only on us. The Yazidi people have suffered grievously. It is not the use of violence per se, but the reason behind it that make the jihadi movements wrong. It is hard to see what they hope to accomplish by killing children at a pop concert

Natalija Svobodné
Natalija Svobodné
3 years ago
Reply to  ian k

Algeria was part of the barbary coast slave trade selling and ransoming over a million whites to the Ottomans. from the beginning of the 16th century to the middle of the 18th (*not including the Europeans enslaved by Morocco and raiders in Mediterranean Sea coast)
Algeria’s entire economy ran on selling and owning slaves. The french had to invade to stop people being taken as they refused to stop slaving! I’d call that a good justification for using violence to avoid oppression! And there-in lies the second point – Violence begets more violence and oppression.
Barbary slave trade
Barbary pirates
The real history of slaving.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWrfjUzYvPo

Last edited 3 years ago by Natalija Svobodné
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

How did this avoid the Censor’s wrath?

Perhaps he/she/it is on Holiday?

Last edited 3 years ago by Charles Stanhope
Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
3 years ago

There is no rehabilitation possible for men such as Suddesh Amman or Usman Khan. Once you have a person who genuinely believes that whatever evil they commit is divinely mandated then it is impossible to convince them of their error. What logic or reason is going to persuade someone who believes, as a matter of fundamentalist faith, that murdering unbelievers will earn them an eternity in paradise (with, bizarrely, 72 virgins for “comfort”)?
Returning ISIS fighters, those who attended Al Qaeda training camps and even those home-grown jihadis who can view beheading videos and nod approvingly, pose a real and present threat to this country.
There will always be well-intentioned do-gooders who’ll suggest that we cannot give in to fear or hate and that we must try and reach out to such people. But we are dealing with people who believe – and I mean REALLY believe – in paradise for the faithful and eternal conscious-torment-in-fire for unbelievers. No amount of well-intentioned do-goodery on the part of the state will move them from that position one inch. What rational, temporal argument could one put forward that would be seen to countermand a spiritual, holy mission, if that is what the jihadi believes his actions to be?
We must stop tip-toeing around this issue. Politicians insisting “Islam is a religion of Peace” and pretending such attacks have “nothing to do with Islam” is a dangerous fantasy. The Govt, since the threat of Islamist terror came to our shores, has tried to ignore the fact that these jihadis explicitly commit atrocities in the name of their faith. The state seems reluctant to admit this obvious fact for fear of upsetting Muslim communities.
Of course the majority of Muslims do not condone such atrocities, though many seem reticent to condemn their co-religionists publicly.
Not being free to discuss that point is, itself, a real problem and only provides cover in which Islamic extremism can flourish in our midst, unchallenged.
The only “reformed” Islamist I’m aware of is Majid Nawaz – though he came to the realisation himself, rather than being deradicalised by a kindly probation officer, or state-run deprogramming scheme. I would suggest that if a man with such an obvious intellect, a man with such finely calibrated ethics, can be persuaded to the cause of Islamist extremism it only goes to show what an insidiously “attractive” ideology it can be, if fed to a disaffected young man seeking answers.
As Steve Weinberg so memorably put it …. “With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil – that takes religion.” It’s the cosmic equivalent of the Nuremberg defence. I was only following orders.
So what can a Govt do with home-grown Jihadis? No civilised culture should condone indefinite detention but short of capital punishment what is the alternative? You cannot “solve” the problem of imprisoned Islamist extremists, you can only hope to contain it. And certainly you must separate them from the general prison population and from young, disaffected prisoners who they would undoubtedly attempt to radicalise. Once inside a place like Whitemoor, which appears to have become a UK Jihadi finishing school, it would be safe to assume that any former inmate poses a real and ongoing threat to society.
To rehabilitate was memorably defined as “To invest again with dignity”, a noble aim, and one that in the long run saves the state money. Funding adequately to achieve this will pay for itself many times over. Most right minded people would believe in that as a general rule.
However, to equate such high-minded goals with our necessarily harsh treatment of Jihadis and Hate Preachers is entirely self-defeating. With ISIS fighters it would be better for all concerned if they were killed in battle – however we cannot simply murder those that are captured. With home-grown jihadis all we can do is arrest them and in the majority of cases, hold them indefinitely and isolate them from ‘regular’ prisoners – because there’s no way you can expect to win in a situation where the state is trying to rehabilitate a petty offender whilst his Jihadi cell-mate believes he is doing God’s work trying to turn him into a mass murderer.

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Maybe we should ask China how it re-educates its terrorists.

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
3 years ago

We in the West do not have the stomach for such methods (or for what we imagine such methods might be).

Alex Delszsen
Alex Delszsen
3 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Steve Weinberg is wrong. Using your own example, National Socialism was not a religion.

Last edited 3 years ago by Alex Delszsen
Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Delszsen

Not a religion per se, but those who committed atrocities believed in Nazism with almost religious fervour. It was that belief that allowed them to think what evils they were perpetrating were in a good cause – so I’d suggest a very similar phenomenon.

Hilary LW
Hilary LW
3 years ago

“De-radicalisation” can only work if the religion itself is a) thoroughly understood and b) effectively challenged by those involved. The extremist ideology is embedded in the creed itself, and the radicals are, in their own eyes, simply being faithful to the requirements of the creed – and imitating their prophet. But that would require courage to reject the naivety of multiculturalism on the one hand, and the confidence to promote an attractive, compelling and truthful alternative set of beliefs on the other. Stroking ferrets isn’t the answer.

Vijay Kant
Vijay Kant
3 years ago
Reply to  Hilary LW

When a religion clearly states that: Life Begins After Death, what else is there to be understood? Islam clearly states that great rewards await those who die defending (protecting) the faith!

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Vijay Kant

Life after death is not a uniquely muslim teaching. It’s shared by Christianity, and yet we don’t seem to have a horde of Christian suicide bombers – not even from the vanishingly small minority of fundamentalists who attack abortion clinics.
So that’s not it.

Peter Francis
Peter Francis
3 years ago

During the Cold War, when a Soviet spy ring was uncovered in a Western country such as the UK, a number of Soviet diplomats were expelled. Not all those expelled were spies, rather the number expelled depended on the gravity of the espionage operation. Nobody at the time argued that the Soviet diplomats’ human rights were violated. We need to treat jihadis in the same way that we treated Soviet diplomats and have a similar tariff of expulsions. That means that we have to stop giving out UK citizenship like to confetti to all and sundry. That is always going to make expulsion more difficult.
For those jihadis in prison, we need to put them in an American-style supermax prison to prevent them brainwashing other prisoners.

Alex Delszsen
Alex Delszsen
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

Supermax is too harsh. Yes, crime can be masterminded behind bars (I am watching El Chapo) but it is simply torture to keep humans in small cells, lights on, an hour’s contact with nature, and no human contact. Would you put a dog in a situation like this?

Mark Preston
Mark Preston
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Delszsen

Dogs that kill people or try to kill people are generally executed. Yes, I’d but these terrorists in a supermax style prison, in fact I’d happily put a bullet in their heads myself.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Preston

Dogs do normally kill people unless specifically trained to do so.
Incidentally, contrary to popular opinion Wolves don’t either.

Natalija Svobodné
Natalija Svobodné
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Delszsen

Dogs don’t bite the hand that feeds them. Dogs are loyal.
In-fact if people were more like dogs by nature… I can only think it would be an improvement.

Last edited 3 years ago by Natalija Svobodné
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago

As Frederick the Great said “The more I see of the human race, the more I love my dogs”.

Incidentally he is now finally buried alongside them as he wished, at Sans Souci, Potsdam.

Natalija Svobodné
Natalija Svobodné
3 years ago

Good Man! :O)

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Delszsen

Agreed, if it is too harsh humans adapt and ‘toughen up’. viz French Guiana.

If it is more benign, paradoxically it is even more unpleasant, and in the end the inmates plead for death, a death that is never, and must never be given.

Unfortunately this is all rather expensive for the long suffering tax payer.

Kate H. Armstrong
Kate H. Armstrong
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Delszsen

“Would you put a dog in a situation like this?”
Never …. it is an insult to the species to imagine a dog equivalent. Dogs are seldom traitors … and then only if they have rabies. Ergo, the kindest thing for deliberate traitors/sadists, violent invaders, all human, and with the power of reasoning ‘right’ from ‘wrong’, is surely euthanasia?

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

“we have to stop giving out UK citizenship like to confetti to all and sundry”

You may not have understood our imigration and naturalisation systems as well as you seem to think. We don’t hand out citizenship like confetti. It’s not even close.

Mark H
Mark H
3 years ago

A bunch of very good points there.
The article made me wonder whether we should adopt the approach taken to dealing with Nazis post-WW2.
Which is, that anyone guilty of murder remains responsible for their actions. Expression & propagation of Nazi ideology was forbidden. The corruption and evil of the Nazi leadership was demonstrated. Those who signed up to fight in a Nazi unit (Waffen-SS vs regular army units) could return to society and if they tried to propagate Nazism they would face justice on that basis.

Mark Preston
Mark Preston
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark H

I think you’ll find we weren’t even consistent with that. Werner von Braun, creator of the V1 and V2 which killed a lot of people was given a nice cushy job with the Americans.

Natalija Svobodné
Natalija Svobodné
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Preston

Is-ought problem, arises when one makes claims about what ought to be, that are based solely on statements about what is. One is based on an idealistic ideal of the world (a fantasy ideal) and the other on realities and necessities to maintain security. Such is life – all leaders have to at some stage make less than ideal trade offs.
Without von Braun and his V1’s we potentially wouldn’t have had a response to the Arms race! And Europe would have been left a sitting duck with the russians in full expansion mode. Stalin would not have made a great neighbor! In short we needed that knowledge.
Also why would you shoot a scientist? Scientists invent and research, but they don’t kill!
They don’t deploy the weapon or order it activated, they don’t make nation policies on war, That is the job of Generals and Politicians.
The equivalent is to shoot the guy that made a pistol but rather than the guy that pulled the trigger…or the guy that ordered the trigger to be pulled.
I don’t like that such a bomb was made and used, but you do pick those responsible based on chain of command. (the dooers of the deed)
He also developed the space station as a concept and rockets to reach the moon. Which in turn has developed many spin off tech that we use everyday. Yes I would argue that knowledge came at great cost, but looking these days at earth – I think space travel will be a must if we are to survive as a species.

Last edited 3 years ago by Natalija Svobodné
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Preston

Nor were the Russians.
How do you think they got the pygmy Yuri Gagarin into space?

Diana Durham
Diana Durham
3 years ago

Deport them, or bring back the death penalty for treason.

Gordon Black
Gordon Black
3 years ago

a competing moral universe, one powerfully anchored in [an interpretation of] scripture.” There is no ‘interpretation’, the scripture is indubitable

Last edited 3 years ago by Gordon Black
Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Gordon Black

There is no ‘interpretation’, the scripture is indubitable”

I know lots of people who doubt it, which refutes your claim as made.
Besides, it is only through interpretation that we can understand anything – scripture included. When Christ said, “I am the door”, did he mean that he had hinges and was made of planks?

Sidney Falco
Sidney Falco
3 years ago

Putting someone up against a wall is a guaranteed way of deradicalisation.

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Sidney Falco

If, however, that radicalise more people than you execute, it fails on its own terms.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago

We need a Referendum on Capital Punishment. Why?

Because it works, first time, every time and it’s “as cheap as chips”.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
3 years ago

Charles,

I’m not sure that’s right. On the surface there seems to be some logic to capital punishment in such cases – but I, for one, couldn’t support it.
I don’t think that’s from mere squeamishness as I’d have no problem whatsoever if Jihadis were killed on the battlefield as enemy combatants. But, once captured, I couldn’t support the state sanctioned execution of such prisoners. That seems to me to go beyond Justice and into the realm of Vengeance.
What justification could one find for it? As a deterrent? Certainly not in the case of Jihadists who seem to welcome death – as long as they can take a number of unbelievers with them as they go. In fact, rather than a deterrent, would the Death Penalty not provide hate preachers with a recruiting tool for further radicalisation?
If the US experience is any guide then Capital Punishment is not even a cost-saving. Strange as it may seem The US media is always at pains to point out that it actually costs the State quite a lot more to put a prisoner to death than it would to keep them in a maximum security prison for the rest of their lives – given the torturous legal processes that would almost certainly need to be navigated before a death sentence was carried out. ‘Two in the back of the head’ in the car park behind the court house might seem a more satisfying outcome, but that is never the way it would go.
It also would, in my opinion, undermine our standing in the world. I appreciate there are probably some cultures that view our lack of a Death Penalty as evidence of our weakness, though personally I think it adds to our standing as a mature democracy that believes in the rule of law being applied within a framework of morality.
I’m torn on this. I certainly don’t care too much about the prisoners’ well-being – their desire to kill their countrymen makes me think it better for all concerned if they were permanently removed from society – but is that by indefinite, lifelong detention? I agree that seems to serve no purpose. But I still think it preferable to capital punishment which seems to me to brutalise society. How can we take the moral high ground against murderers if we approve of the state murdering them as punishment?
Maybe a solution might be to lock them up but not to take their belt or shoe-laces as we might with other prisoners. They seem determined to kill themselves for their beliefs – just so long as they can’t kill others in the process, then who are we to stand in their way.
Ultimately, these people are enemies of the state. I have no compunction about the state bringing about their death on the battlefield, by drone strike or gunned down in the street in the commission of a terror attack. But ,all that said, killing these people once they have been taken prisoner seems to go beyond my sense of Justice. I don’t know how to articulate it better, but it just feels wrong to me, though I completely understand where you are coming from, and would shed no tears at their passing.

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Whilst it may not be a deterrent (I’m not sure) think of the death penalty as a preventative. Assuming the right neck is in the noose, Hollywood films not withstanding, I can guarantee if the job is done right there’ll be no further crime from the main participant. The same cannot be said for the current method.

Cost in the US is high because a) lawyers get paid a lot, b) appeal after appeal after appeal is allowed. Quite often on trivial grounds.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Yes you are correct, that was an intemperate outburst, for which I must apologise.

I must confess to an ulterior motive of trying to establish the parameters of the Censor, in view of the Blitzkrieg that happened on Monday!

Well we know now that
“Hang & Flog” is still acceptable.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

“But, once captured, I couldn’t support the state sanctioned execution of such prisoners.”
Arent you skipping the whole legal process? Trials?
“What justification could one find for it? As a deterrent?”
It is 100% effective as a deterrent. No one who has been executed has ever killed again. In any case, it’s called capital punishment, not capital deterrent.
“If the US experience is any guide then Capital Punishment is not even a cost-saving.”
Its called capital punishment, not capital cost saving.
”Maybe a solution might be to lock them up but not to take their belt or shoe-laces as we might with other prisoners.”
So they can kill someone in prison? How is that fair?
“But ,all that said, killing these people once they have been taken prisoner seems to go beyond my sense of Justice.”
So you are not against executing them without trial which would be what executing them on a battlefield would be. But you are against executing them after a trial and sentencing? Does this really make sense?

Last edited 3 years ago by Annette Kralendijk
Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
3 years ago

What?

No.

Quite obviously, killing an enemy combatant on the battlefield happens without judicial oversight. That is just the business of warfare.

Killing an enemy combatant once they have been taken as a prisoner of war – Whether with or without a trial – is a completely different matter, but I presume you realise that already- thus I’m struggling to understand what point you are making?

Kate H. Armstrong
Kate H. Armstrong
3 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

“But, once captured, I couldn’t support the state sanctioned execution of such prisoners. That seems to me to go beyond Justice and into the realm of Vengeance.”
What is your problem with the ‘natural’ human urge for “Vengeance” in return for Jihadi cold-blooded massacres of innocent, law-abiding, indigenous citizens of the UK?
Perhaps it is more rational to ‘think’ or ‘define’ execution as the PRICE required by a civilized society for the Crime of deliberately setting out to EXECUTE innocent human life? Jihads do not normally (in the West) target their own colonies despite the constant reassurance of successive governments that these are all occupied by a majority of Peace-loving Muslims and that Islam is Religion of Peace.

  • Extraordinary then that very, very, very, few of those Peace-lovers have emerged over the decades to STAND as integrated or assimilated, contributing, (e.g. as tax paying residents or literate (English speakers). Instead there is a very conscious self-segregation, linguistic disdain, happiness to claim all benefits and large areas of national territory as of Right.
  • No need to wonder why? Just read their Holy Book or listen to their Imams/Community leaders/or the Muslim Council of Britain.
Natalija Svobodné
Natalija Svobodné
3 years ago

I doubt the success rate is less than 5%… Would be good to have transparent stats! How many started and success rate vs how many remain militant. I’m not hopeful…
The cost must be astronomical to tax-payers – at what benefit?
The government conflates what Ought to be with what is, and the reality There are dangerous people here with views to a life not in keeping with the west. Time to deport those that don’t fit in to secular democratic norms based on religious extremism. Those who incur significant cost to the state in security and threat.

David Uzzaman
David Uzzaman
3 years ago

I wonder if the solution that’s needed is something like the DeNazification that was successfully used in postwar Germany. Presumably there were large numbers of former Nazis who had sincerely believed in all that bunkum but they’ve not been a problem. The key was the total barrage of propaganda painting the whole enterprise in a very bad light. Nobody cared about the hurt feelings of Nazis or thought they were worthy of any respect. There are still large numbers of people who proudly describe themselves as communists but very few Nazis so it obviously worked.

Natalija Svobodné
Natalija Svobodné
3 years ago

“counterterrorism policy which imagines terrorists not as moral, intellectual agents of their own destiny, but as mere entities “pushed” or “driven” to violence by structural factors above and beyond their control”
Moral agency is an individual’s ability to make moral judgments and to be held accountable for those actions. The counter-terrorism group have by this policy infantilised people to such a degree where there actions no longer have repercussions This is to deny them full personhood!
In short bigoted idiots are creating policy that is stunted and ineffective, because they don’t believe that person of a certain religion can act like a human and take responsibility for their actions (and because of this we all suffer)
Rules and laws should be universally applied. What is a rule for the bulk of the population should also apply to these guys! With the same expectations in behavior!
They weren’t pushed or driven to violence, they chose violence! What we do with adversity is up to us as individuals. It is our individual actions that we are responsible for. That’s the greatest freedom as individuals!, to choose how to act with what life throws at us,
Our circumstances we can’t choose, but our actions we can!

Last edited 3 years ago by Natalija Svobodné
Cave Artist
Cave Artist
3 years ago

Unfortunately some of the assumptions underlying this policy stem from the denazification programmes after 1945, the western versions of which and the British in particular was notoriously ineffective. It is a waste of time. There is little point, if the priority is protecting the public, in releasing any from captivity.

Tony Taylor
Tony Taylor
3 years ago

Surely “stroke the ferret” is a euphemism.