Counter-Terrorism: Relentless Recruiters


February 15, 2016: Indonesia is the latest nation to learn that sending Islamic terrorists to regular prisons and allowing them to mix with non-terrorist criminals simply results in many of common criminals being radicalized and turned into Islamic terrorists. This was discovered as information Indonesian counter-terrorism forces obtained from captured Islamic terrorists was added to what was discovered then the backgrounds of dead Islamic terrorists were investigated and added to a database. It was found that a growing number of new recruits were coming from prisons where men with obvious criminal tendencies were often easily influenced by imprisoned Islamic terrorists and radicalized by that experience. Since 2001 most Islamic terrorist organizations have not only recognized this form of recruiting but encouraged it.

For a long time it was thought that this was mainly a phenomenon in Western nations where Moslems were a minority. But now Moslem majority nations are also finding prisons are increasingly effective for radicalizing Moslem criminals and turning them into Islamic terrorists. Prison officials in Moslem nations tend to be more corrupt than elsewhere and Islamic terror groups found that it paid to bribe prison guards to get recruiting materials into prisons.

Another problem is the growing number of new converts to Islam who encountered Islam while in prison and were radicalized there as well but when released did not become Islamic terrorists. Instead these Western recruits were employed to radicalize civilians and passing them on to Islamic terrorist organizations for further training. The best tactic here was detecting and monitoring radicalized prisoners after release and going after those found to have turned into Islamic terrorist recruiters.

Meanwhile all nations with Moslem inmates are seeking a fix for this problem. One solution that works is to isolate imprisoned Islamic terrorists from non-radicalized prisoners and each other. This is expensive in the short term but pays off in fewer Islamic terrorists in the long term.

Prisons have become a major source of new Islamic terrorist recruits and this method, along with greater use of the Islamic terrorists to recruit is replacing more traditional sources. For long time the Islamic boarding schools were the prime training ground for potential terrorists. It was difficult to deal with this problem in Moslem countries because most students of these schools do not become radicalized. The police found that an effective technique was to monitor these schools more carefully and then only raiding the ones where there was clear evidence of Islamic terrorist recruiting and training. In colleges Islamic radicals were succeeding in radicalizing college students and this was handled by infiltrating Islamic radical college student organizations and then going after the leaders and the advanced radicalized students who were heading for active Islamic terror activities.

Whatever solutions are developed to cripple efforts to radicalize Moslems the Islamic terror organizations have, so far, proved effective at coming up with new recruiting methods.


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