Europe’s Prisons ‘Breeding Ground’ for Jihadists: Study

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LONDON (AFP) – Prisons in Europe are becoming “breeding grounds” for jihadist groups, with some criminals seeing violent extremism as a form of redemption for their crimes, a report by a British think tank published Tuesday said. Jihadist and criminal groups are recruiting from the same pool of people, while their social networks are also converging, the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR) found, in what it dubbed a “new crime-terror nexus”. The emergence of the Islamic State group (IS) has strengthened the link between crime and terrorism, according to the report which examined the profiles of European jihadists recruited since 2011. Rather than looking to universities or religious establishments, IS increasingly turns to “ghettos”, prisons and “underclasses” to recruit individuals with a history of criminal behaviour, it said. Prisons provide a ready supply of “angry young men” who are “ripe” for radicalisation, according to the study, entitled “Criminal Pasts, Terrorist Futures: European Jihadists and the New Crime-Terror Nexus”. ICSR director Peter Neumann, one of the report’s authors, said the lines between crime and jihadist groups were becoming “increasingly blurred”. “Prison is becoming important as a place where a lot of networking happens,” he said. “Given