‘Deadly Delusions’: Europe’s Deradicalization Programs

Dec 9, 2019 by

by Giulio Meotti, Gatestone Institute:

[…] The latest attack in London was a lethal mix of religious dissimulation and Western naïveté. It also, one hopes, buries all the British illusions of deradicalizing jihadists. As the Times reported, the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), the so-called “nudge unit” formerly part of the Cabinet Office, examined 33 deradicalization programs across the UK and found that only two were supposedly successful. The British criminologist Simon Cottee has blamed “liberal professors’ deadly delusions about curing terrorists”.

France had already tried it out. A bipartisan report in the French Senate had condemned the French deradicalization program as a “total fiasco“, in the words of Philippe Bas, a senator from the center-right Republicans party. When Senators Esther Benbassa and Catherine Troendlé, both leading the task force, visited the deradicalization center housed in the Château de Pontourny, they found only one resident at the facility.

France also has suffered through the failure of the monitoring mechanism. Many terror attacks in the last few years have been conducted by jihadists who were already flagged in France’s special counter-terrorism database: the attack at Christmas market in Strasbourg, the attack at the church in Normandy and the attack at the supermarket in Trèbes, to recall just a few. Recently, a jihadi attack took place inside Paris police headquarters. The terrorist, Mickaël Harpon, worked, in fact, in the unit tracking terrorists.

All over Europe, none of the deradicalization programs has proven effective. “There are not enough reliable data to reach definitive conclusions about the short-term, let alone the long-term, effectiveness of most existing deradicalization programs,” a RAND report concluded. It might be beyond the reach of Western states to deradicalize people who, like the London Bridge terrorist, wore a fake suicide vest to invite being killed by the police and becoming a “martyr”.

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