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Trying to reform jihadists is straight out of Evelyn Waugh

Trying to reform jihadists is straight out of Evelyn Waugh

United Kingdom (UK)
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Evelyn Waugh specialised in black comedy – and the London Bridge incident was, as I say, tragedy. But there is a read-across from one to the other which makes the 90-year-old novel worth re-reading. I would make three points.

One is that the search for redemption among prisoners is a profoundly good task, but the facts suggest that most criminals do not achieve it. (Or if they do, it is by the mercy of God, not through well-meaning courses.) So a certain caution is warranted.

The second is that the motivation of terrorist prisoners, especially , is radically different from the motivation of what the Royal Ulster Constabulary used jokingly to call “ordinary, decent criminals”. They do not kill because it is convenient or fun or a way of earning money, but because they think it is right.

The third is that Islamist terrorism regards deceit as a legitimate weapon of jihad, whether in terms of propaganda, or of fooling kind people who want to help you, or of literally hiding a knife up your sleeve.