Islamist Terrorists Fooling Authorities into Thinking They’re Reformed: Report

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West Midlands Police

British jihadists are pretending to be reformed, using the Islamic concept of “taqiyya”, in order to facilitate an early release from prison into the community where they pose a fresh risk to the public.

Kings College London’s International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) found that” ‘False compliance’ seems to have become more widespread, especially among jihadist prisoners, though its true extent is unknown. This can be a major issue in relation to risk assessment and release arrangements.”

The report named a few Islamists who presented themselves as reformed before and during release, before committing terror atrocities against the public.

ICSR gave the example of Usman Khan, the Islamist who killed two people and injured three others in a stabbing rampage on London Bridge in November 2019 before being fatally shot by police.

Khan had been imprisoned for his part in a bomb plot on the London Stock Exchange. He had been released early on an electronic tag and was engaging in a University of Oxford de-radicalisation programme. The two people Khan killed were both coordinators of the de-radicalisation event that he was attending on the day of the attack.

The Kings College London report noted that Khan “was considered a success story of an extremist turning their life around”. Even Usman’s lawyer had admitted that he might have been “deceived” over the terrorist’s conversion.

False compliance is not just a phenomenon in the UK. Adel Kermiche and his accomplice Abdel Malik Petitjean beheaded 85‑year‑old priest Catholic Jacques Hamel in Saint‑Étienne‑du‑Rouvray church in France in 2016. Kermiche had twice been stopped on his way to Syria to serve as a foreign fighter for Islamist forces and had spent time in prison.

The ICSR report notes that in 2016, he was released from custody after telling the judge: “I am a Muslim who believes in mercy, in doing good, I’m not an extremist … I want to get back my life, see my friends, get married.”

The report continued that current inmates looking to lie their way out of their sentence will contact other jihadists who had succeeded in fooling authorities.

“Similarly, offenders may try to ‘game’ a risk assessment if they are in contact with other inmates who have already participated in the process. Part of this involves knowing what to say to tick the right boxes,” the report said.

The authors reported that this process of “false compliance” is seemingly the use of the “mostly” Shiite Islam concept of “taqiyya”, “used to describe deception and dissimulation to hide one’s true intentions”.

Returning to France, the authors noted fieldwork that found that “many of the 40 female inmates in Fleury‑Mérogis prison in Paris have joked about how they tricked the judge or magistrate — by eating pork, for example, which is forbidden in Islam — to receive more lenient sentences.

“The fieldwork gives rare insight into a phenomenon that due to its nature is likely to be underreported; such behaviour suggests the true scale of taqiyya may be greater than commonly understood.”

Recent research by the French Centre for Terrorism Analysis found 60 per cent of Islamists who left France in the two decades after 1986 had gone on to commit other terror offences.

The ICSR report added there was now the “conundrum” when considering whether a jihadist was reformed on not.

“While it is to be expected that criminals would engage in deception – after all, the simulation of good behaviour to receive lesser sentences or other benefits is as old as criminal justice – this behaviour often seems to defy authorities’ expectations of supposedly ‘religious’ inmates. Holding such expectations is clearly a mistake.

“Yet the assumption that jihadists are more willing to engage in deception than non‑terrorist prisoners can pose a conundrum, whereby anything less than admitting to holding jihadist ideas and intentions is thought of as a form of taqiyya,” the report said.

For former al Qaeda terrorist turned MI6 agent Aimen Dean, there “is no such thing as a rehabilitated jihadist”.

“The only way [a jihadist] can demonstrate that they’ve renounced violent extremism is if they have sung like a canary and provided damaging intelligence on the networks that recruited them,” Mr Dean said in February.

The Kings College report comes as Defence Secretary Ben Wallace claimed during an Islamic State update that of the 900 British citizens who travelled to the warzone to fight for the terror group, “40 per cent have returned to the United Kingdom, where they have been investigated, and the majority have been assessed now to pose no risk or a low-security risk”.

The claims are contrary to a 2019 report by Europol that the UK had a high rate of “exceptionally dangerous” returning jihadists, and questions may also be raised over the government’s assessments in light of the ICSR’s report on the employment of “false compliance” and taqiyya.

In July, Mohiussunnath Chowdhury had been imprisoned for an Islamist terror plot on London tourism landmarks and the gay pride parade. In 2018, a jury had acquitted Chowdhury of terrorism offences, after in August 2017 he drove his car up to Buckingham Palace and attempted to hack at guarding police officers with a sword while shouting “Allah hu Akbar”.

He had left a suicide note reading: “The Queen and her soldiers will all be in the hellfire. They go to war with Muslims around the world and kill them without any mercy. They are the enemies that Allah tells us to fight.”

However, Chowdhury had managed to convince the jury that his intention was not to commit an act of terror, but commit ‘suicide by cop’.

Immediately after release, he had boasted on social media about his acquittal, calling the officer that disarmed him in front of the Queen’s official residence a “cuck”. He then came under the watch of security services, which arrested him when his second terror plot took form.

He had told an undercover agent before the second arrest: “I told them why I did it. I told them that they are filth, even in their own courts and yet after all that, every single person on the jury, Allah made them say not guilty, yeah, this is the imaan [faith], right.”

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