As the threat of terrorist atrocities rises in the United Kingdom and mainland Europe, governments across the continent are looking to introduce measures that can effectively combat extremist organisations. Following the attacks in London during the 2019 election, Westminster is looking to introduce harsher and longer penalties.
Terrorists in prison may see their incarceration tenure “as an opportunity” to organise and plan their attacks, a radicalisation report warns as the government looks to introduce harsher and long sentencing.
Research from the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) published on the 22 July discovered that since 2016, at least five terror attacks have been organised or carried out by prisoners serving time and released.
These attacks included the Fishmongers’ Hall and Streatham, and a plot by a terror cell who had met inside prison.
The report covers 10 European countries including the UK and warned that jihadists were “increasingly turning prisons into a theatre of conflict and confrontation”.
“There is an emerging view among extremists that prison is an opportunity, not necessarily just to recruit or network, but to also work on themselves”, the study said.
“Imprisoned recruiters learn psychology to become better recruiters, for example, while imprisoned ideologues learn Islamic and jihadist history to become better ideologues”.
Terrorists also see their time in prison as “test” of their commitment to the cause and a way to recover Daesh battlefield losses, the report argued.
Extremists “actively look to recruit inside prisons”, and that there risks involved with both introducing terrorists throughout the incarcerated population and putting them together.
Researchers found that terrorist will also utilise their period inside the prison system as a way of gaining a better understanding of how it operates and how authorities work. They will also pose as well-behaved and compliant in order to get released sooner.
One example of the false cooperated cited was the Fishmongers’ Hall attacker, Usman Khan, who had been involved in rehabilitation and disengagement programs in HMP Woodhill and was considered a success of the deradicalisation system before carrying out an attack at an event for Cambridge University’s Learning Together scheme in 2019.