Releasing extremists


by Rumbold
27th September, 2010 at 11:54 pm    

An expert on Islamist prison radicalism is bemoaning the dominant strategy of those jailed for terrorism-related offences, in response to the head of MI5 warning about the dangers of soon to be released terrorists/terrorist supporters:

Rehabilitation is not the main priority of the British prison system. However, during my research, in the case of prisoners convicted of terrorist offences, it was not even taken into consideration. Rather, intense surveillance, sometimes to the limit of removing the prisoner’s human rights, and in some prisons, abuse by the other inmates (and in some cases prison officers) were often the norm rather than the exception…

The former government, as I explain in my book, made an enormous effort to show that radicalisation within prisons was controlled and the mass media reports of Muslim radicalisation behind bars were addressed. Yet it did not care about the future of prisoners or about the issues less covered by the media, such as re-integration.

Prisoners who still pose a danger to wider society are always a thorny issue, especially as it is draconian to continue to hold them after they have served their sentences, unless new and concrete evidence is presented in a court of law. Yet many of those released are unlikely to have softened their views of the British state or society, so what can be done? The system needs to be reformed, but what about those being released now? Certainly non-EU citizens should be deported, whilst the others should be watched initially, but without any other interference in their liberties (unless they are being released early under specified bail conditions).

(Hat-tip: Naadir Jeewa )


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Filed in: Civil liberties,Islamists,Terrorism






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  1. earwicga — on 28th September, 2010 at 1:45 am  

    Rumbold – you may be interested in ‘Beyond Belief: Religion in Prison’ broadcast yesterday and available on iPlayer.

  2. dave bones — on 28th September, 2010 at 1:54 am  

    On this subject did any of you see The Rice and Peas film Age of Extremes at The Tricycle Theatre? You should see it its right up your street. Amazing stuff about the BBC and the Flotilla story, a bit of Hamza, Mr Choudharry and the Osma Bin London story as well.

    Mainly a lot of stuff about how The War on Terror has been presented in the media. Its got a real sane flavour of the UK. I don’t think the Quilliam foundation wanted to be in it which was a shame as it could have done with their perspective. I’d be very interested in your take on this film.

    It is on again next Thursday at The Riverside Studios. You know Ishmahil Blagrove the director? He did some really authoritative films about Cuba and one about Rastafafi.

  3. dave bones — on 28th September, 2010 at 1:57 am  

    Sorry link

  4. Trofim — on 28th September, 2010 at 7:44 am  

    But it does depend on the exact nature, species of the prisoner. If the Islamist is a dog, you’ve just got to muzzle him. :-)

  5. douglas clark — on 28th September, 2010 at 8:26 am  

    Rumbold,

    I have a sort of difficulty with this arguement. It seems to me that we let murderers back onto the streets without claiming that prison has rehabilitated them.Is it the scale of the potential offence that concerns you?

  6. DavidMWW — on 28th September, 2010 at 9:12 am  

    The best rehabilitation for Islamic-terrorism related offenders would be daily Koran lessons from a knowledgeable apostate.

  7. MaidMarian — on 28th September, 2010 at 9:13 am  

    ‘Yet many of those released are unlikely to have softened their views of the British state or society, so what can be done?’

    First thing to say is it would be interesting to see the recidivism rate, relative to other offences.

    Beyond that though Rumbold, I’m not altogether sure that there is any real difference between extremists and, say those involved in anti-social behaviour. Prison is unlikely to change an ASBO view of the world and I’m struggling to see why muslims should be ‘different.’

    Indeed, I didn’t like the extract you put up because it appears to carry the inference that if you put muslims in prison they will have a switch flicked in their heads and become ‘radicalised’ (whatever that means). That is a really shaky way of looking at this.

    As little as many like it, the reality is that extremists are not suddenly going to subscribe to a mainstream world-view.

    As you say, no easy answers without evidence.

  8. damon — on 28th September, 2010 at 11:01 am  

    If this is only about people convicted of terrorist offences that’s fair enough. If they are still considered dangerous maybe they should have had a longer sentence.
    The guy in the links, Prof. Marranci, also talks about Islam in prison a bit more widely, and I’m guessing this can be a problem more widely in the prison service if common criminals who are muslims, as soo as they go inside, quickly become pius and group orientated and are demanding of their rights as a seperate group. And do so as a way of making life better for them, but also as a way of challenging authority. A lot of prisoners resent being locked up and take a ”them and us” view of the prison staff, so I don’t think petty criminals who are also muslims would be any differet.
    I did read that Whitmore Prison in Cambridgeshire had this kind of problem.

    This article in the Telegraph says:

    ”Muslim gangs imposing sharia law in British prisons”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/7428933/Muslim-gangs-imposing-sharia-law-in-British-prisons.html

    But as it’s by Andrew Gilligan maybe it can be dismissed out of hand.

  9. Rumbold — on 28th September, 2010 at 3:31 pm  

    Douglas and MaidMarian:

    Good points both. Terrorist/terrorist supporters should be hled to the same standards as other, as to segregate them in this sense is not only unfair, but encourages a senses of unjustified superiorty and grievence. There is an issue with further/deeper radicalisation in prisons, and that needs to be addressed.

    David MWW:

    Agreed.

  10. damon — on 29th September, 2010 at 12:15 pm  

    With politicised prisoners there’s only so much you can do I would guess. The government had very little success in changing the outlook of it’s Republican and Loyalist prisoners in Northern Ireland.
    How many times have Islamic terrorist prisoners said things like this to each other do you think? ”It’s Tony Blair that should be locked up in here, not us.”

    In a Guardian link that Prof. Marranci put in his article that the opening post linked to, I found this to be quite controversial.

    The Prison Service’s attempts to curb the growth of radical Islam in jails by restricting communal prayers and reading of the Qur’an during work breaks are exacerbating the problem, according to the first in-depth study of Muslim prisoners.
    The research, based on interviews with 170 current and former Muslim prisoners, also reveals that bans on access to certain TV programmes and newspapers in high-security prisons have also backfired.

    When people are in jail, I thought they had to do what they were told and couldn’t demand access to any TV programmes and newspapers they wanted.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2007/apr/13/ukcrime.religion

  11. Naadir Jeewa — on 30th September, 2010 at 12:23 pm  

    If you think there’s very little that can be done about Islamist prisoners with regards to rehabilitation, I advise you take a look at Indonesia:

    http://nationalinterest.org/article/martyrdom-interrupted-3380

    “IN THE case of Prabowo, the terrorist that Detachment 88 captured the night before the raid on Top’s house, the interrogators started with the now clearly tried-and-true relationship-building approach. He confessed to his captors that his chief concern was his family. Once the interrogators understood Prabowo’s worries, they offered to take care of his loved ones financially for the entire duration of his confinement. But according to Karnavian, the interrogators also convinced Prabowo to cooperate using an age-old method that borrows a page from criminal investigations. They laid out all the evidence they had against the JI supporter, collected over several days of surveillance, and convinced him that they already knew everything-resistance was futile.

    In the U.S. Army, this is called the We Know All/Futility approach. In criminal investigations, it’s a detective’s bread and butter. Typically, when detectives go this route, they hold up a thick file of concealed blank paper, made all the more convincing by rattling off a few known facts discovered during surveillance. When Detachment 88 interrogators combined this old street-cop method with an offer to take care of Prabowo’s family, they convinced him to cooperate in a matter of mere hours. Top was about to get a surprise visit.”

    Ali Soufan, the FBI agent who successfully interrogated Abu Zubaydah (who made headlines when the torture memos and waterboarding stories emerged), stated in Senate testimony this past April that he established a comforting, brotherly relationship with the former al-Qaeda coordinator and convinced him to cooperate. That is, until CIA interrogators took over and began to torture Zubaydah, after which he clammed up.”

  12. RezaV — on 4th October, 2010 at 2:14 pm  

    “Certainly non-EU citizens should be deported,”

    Of course they should, but the far-left will make deporting anyone as difficult as they possibly can.

    If any of them are dual nationals then they should be stripped of their British citizenship. Then deported of course. We already have the legislation in place to do this.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10620352

    Any who are EU citizens must be deported to their EU country of citizenship. This is more problematic legally, however other EU members seem to be able to pull it off.

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