You are here

Can Muslim Terrorists be Deradicalized? - Part I

Can Muslim Terrorists be Deradicalized? - Part I

Country: 
United Kingdom (UK)
News Date: 
05/02/2020
Sharia Watch
Summary: 
  • "What we found [in prisons] was so shockingly bad that I had to agree to the language in the original report being toned down. With hindsight, I'm not sure that was the right decision." — Ian Acheson, British expert on prisons.
  • "There were serious deficiencies in almost every aspect of the management of terrorist offenders... Frontline prison staff were vulnerable to attack and were ill-equipped to counter hateful extremism on prison landings for fear of being accused of racism. Prison imams did not possess the tools, and sometimes the will, to combat Islamist ideology. The prison service's intelligence-gathering system was hopelessly fractured and ineffectual." — Ian Acheson, "London Bridge attack: I told ministers we were treating terrorist prisoners with jaw-dropping naivety. Did they listen?", London Times, December 1, 2019.
  •  
  • "Obedience is achieved by violence and intimidation carried out by members of the group known as enforcers. 'Those who had committed terrorist crimes often held more senior roles in the gang,' the study found, 'facilitated by the respect some younger prisoners gave them.' The study found that terrorist groups such as al-Qaida did not see prison as an obstacle. Quite the opposite, they viewed it as an opportunity to organize and expand." — Patrick Dunleavy, former Deputy Inspector General for New York State Department of Corrections, June 18, 2019.

On December 1, however, Acheson himself wrote an article for the London Times entitled "London Bridge attack: I told ministers we were treating terrorist prisoners with jaw-dropping naivety. Did they listen?"

In it, he revealed that his survey was originally opposed by the CEO of Britain's Prison and Probation Service, who had to be overruled by Gove. He goes on to write that "What we found was so shockingly bad that I had to agree to the language in the original report being toned down. With hindsight, I'm not sure that was the right decision." He continues with a deeply worrying account of what he and his team found:

There were serious deficiencies in almost every aspect of the management of terrorist offenders through the system that are relevant to Usman Khan. Frontline prison staff were vulnerable to attack and were ill-equipped to counter hateful extremism on prison landings for fear of being accused of racism. Prison imams did not possess the tools, and sometimes the will, to combat Islamist ideology. The prison service's intelligence-gathering system was hopelessly fractured and ineffectual.

The rest of the article should be read in full, for it is a damning indictment of the way Islamic extremism and deradicalization of terrorists are handled within the UK's prison network. At one point, he writes:

What has this got to do with Khan? Many of the recommendations I made related to what I saw as serious gaps in the management of terrorist offenders into custody and "through the gate". There was a lack of expertise and appropriateness in the arrangements for probation supervision of these most potentially lethal offenders.

The questions Acheson proceeds to ask are detailed and well informed. Perhaps the government agencies responsible for incarceration and deradicalization of terrorists and would-be jihadists will listen to him and others who are deeply informed about the problem and will introduce some at least of the many reforms he calls for.

Tragically, that may not happen. As he himself admits, he is likely to be persona non grata within the service and perhaps the Ministry of Justice: