Europe: The changing face of Jihad recruitment

Europe: The changing face of Jihad recruitment

Though the original quotes were in English, please note this article is translated from Norwegian.

The study can be downloaded here: Recruitment and Mobilisation for the Islamist Militant Movement in Europe


The Al-Quds mosque in Hamburg, the Islamic Cultural Center in Milan or the Finsbury Park mosque in London.  All these places were recruiting bases for radical and extreme Muslims communities in Europe, and several terrorists and al-Qaida leaders can be traced back to these 'safe places'.  But after the terror attacks in Madrid in 2004 and in London in 2005, there have been radical changes in the way violent Islamists are recruited.

This appears in a new report on Jihadist-recruiting in Europe, written by one of Europe foremost experts on international terrorism, Peter R. Neumann.  He's the director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR), and profess at King's College in London.

"Recruitment of Jihadists in Europe has completely changed character.  We don't see any top headed recruitment any longer, whether through al-Qaida or through charismatic imams in the mosque.  The traditional recruitment 'lighthouses' quite simply don't any longer," says Neumann when he presented the report in London this week.

"The police closed down mosques, imams were either arrested or returned to their homeland.  Good intelligence work caused potential terrorists and extreme Islamists to go underground.  Now recruitment takes place by activists who do everything to remain anonymous.  They are often smart and well-educated, but don't look for publicity, such as we saw formerly," he said.

Recruitment of young Muslims now takes place in private places, such as apartments and university dormitories - or in the prisons.  The latter, paradoxically enough as a result of the good intelligence work by police and the security services.  In recent years the number of court cases against terrorists and Jihadists increased sharply in several European countries, many are sentenced and got long prison sentences.

"We see that those who recruit Jihadists look for arenas where young Muslims who are most vulnerable .  Prisons are such an arena, and we know that activists are very active in the first phase of the prison stay.  In this phase, many battle with existential questions,  they deal with anger and hate, they feel oppressed and have lost their social network," says Neumann, and refers to French sociologist Farhad Khosrokhavar who thinks that Islam in Europe has become the oppressed religion, in the same way as it was Marxism in Europe in the last century.

In the UK, 13% of all prisoners are now Muslims, while Muslims makes up just 3% of the national population.  They are in other words, strongly overrepresented.  In France, the percentage is even higher.

Source: Aftenposten (English)

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