European Criminals Are Perfect Targets To Recruit As ‘Gangster Jihad’ For ISIS

An increasingly large number of former criminals are said to be joining the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria from many locations in Europe, as stated in a British report on Tuesday. Almost 60 percent of European jihadists that have been studied by researchers have been jailed in previous years ahead of their recruitment to ISIS. The report describes the radicalized European jihads to be a “super-gang” as shared by CBS.

This, therefore, indicates that the lines between terrorism and criminality are melding and once recruited by ISIS, these individuals easily transition to committing violence for an additional cause which makes the group different from other Islamist organizations like al Qaeda. Al Qaeda tends to radicalize intellectuals and previously non-violent individuals to transition to carrying out violent acts.

ISIS is solely focused on those willing to carry out the barbaric acts and does not insist that recruits study religion like al Qaeda. Peter Neumann, of the center conducting the study, International Centre for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence at King’s College London, shares how such criminals are best for the extremist organization.

“They are the perfect fit. Islamic State doesn’t require any intellectual sophistication. It doesn’t ask you to study religion. It makes it all like a computer game.”

The welcoming demeanor by ISIS to these criminals is seen by the convicts as a chance at “redemption” without having to alter their behavior. Already violent recruits are much easier convinced and are accustomed to violence. It is simpler for ISIS leaders to persuade them to go to greater extremes. Most are also already familiar with weapons and have innate tactics to stay under the radar, and they are often familiar with various forms of logistical planning.

CBS shares about efforts now by authorities to halt extremist attacks and how the groups’ behavior has altered, making it more difficult.

“While past efforts to stop extremist attacks focused on tracing the complicated international bank transactions that financed militants, ISIS attacks don’t necessarily require huge sums of money. The center estimated that some 40 percent of such plots in Europe are now being financed in part by street crime like selling drugs or counterfeit goods.”

An example of this includes the manner that the attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was financed. The publication shares that the activities were funded by members selling counterfeit sports shoes on the streets of Paris. This, therefore, creates the impossible task for authorities and law enforcement to single out the extremists by targeting all sources of funding to combat the threat that is ever-present. As the publication relays, criminal means within European and westernized portions of the world will become more important as radicalization by former criminals increases.

“Based on our database, jihadists tend to continue doing what they are familiar with, which means that terrorist financing by criminal means will become more important as the number of former criminals is increasing.”

The researchers also warn that prisons of Europe will become more important to the expansion of the jihadist movement as they are the perfect targets for breeding radicals and giving incentive to continue with their criminal practices that are of benefit to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

The report states the worry as the extremists target more European criminals and how it has made this a national security issue.

“Institutional silos — for example, the separation between countering crime, customs, and counter-terrorism – need to be broken down,” the report said. “With criminal and terrorism milieus converging, the fight against crime has become a national security issue.”

ISIS has its sights continually set on Europe as a target; therefore, radicalizing natives only assists them in their destructive cause.

[Featured Image by John Moore/Getty Images]