The Europe of today is a multi-ethnic multi-religious society on a highly globalised stage with mass movement of people, assets and ideas. Not even the penitentiary institutions can get away from this, from this, as it is demonstrated by the fact that there are something like 50.000 Muslims in Europe’s prisons, of which about 500 are there for crimes relating to terrorism and who remain well connected with the external culture responsible for feeding terrorist networks.
From numerous examples, cases, judicial and investigative evidences - precisely reported in the project outputs- we know full well that the European, American, Canadian and Arab prisons are exposed to the new threats of radicalisation and proselytism as a consequence of this globalisation.
These questions are the focal point of the analysis carried out by a partnership leaded by Agenfor, Italy, with the support of the Muslim Community of Venice (CRII, Italy), the Association Droit au Droit (DaD, Belgium), the Provveditorato alle Carceri di Padova (Italian Ministry of Justice) and ITIC (Israel). The study of scientific literature, of compiled case histories and interviews carried out during the course of the project have allowed us to identify an ever-changing threat defined as radicalisation. It is a process, it is dynamic and it is part of a greater, far more reaching trend which starts from single individual, sociological or psychological data, passes through the structured khawariji and takfiri narratives and other similar forms of religious modernism (islah), to eventually evolve towards jihadism or pseudo-Islamic terrorism in its various forms, both collective and individual. The final research outlines a comprehensive model to assess and detect the dynamic of radicalisation articulating the process in four phases: Pre-radicalisation, Self-Identification, Indoctrination and Jihadisation.
Besides the dynamic process, the model designed by the Agenfor-researchers provides for some elements of matrix assessment, which permits specific indicator to be profilated and used by penitentiary staff and volunteers working in prisons. These indicators belong to a matrix composed of ‘opportunities’ (which means the places where the process of radicalisation can be facilitated), ‘triggers’ (those aspects of Jihadi literature which mark out the passage from orthodox to other unorthodox dimensions) and ‘catalysts’ (for example journeys to areas of conflicts or military training). This model has been validated through a training course for trainers and the confrontation with a multi-disciplinary Expert’s Panel, through which the project designed a new strategy to detect, prevent and counter radicalisation and proselytism in their penitentiary dynamic.
This is based on three pillars:
- Islam can be our ally in prevention: we explore the resources and opportunities the Muslim religion and communities can offer to the penitentiary system, developing a specific method and creating technical know-how to stimulate repentance and eventually block the progression of the radicalisation dynamic. The questions deal with important themes such as the new fiqh al-Aqalliyat, halal and salat in the penitentiary context, the limits of the jihad such us Fard Kifayyah or the Jihad Ruhy, the theological errors (bid’a) of the takfiri ideas and, most of all, the Orthodox Igtihad and its rules as serious basis to harmonize penitentiary regulations, security and freedom of religion in the EU-Prisons. Key asset for this strategy is the definition of a new role for imam and cultural mediators within the prison environments.
- A Citizen-Security Partnership: let’s not leave the Institutions on their own! The research designs activities aimed at the prevention of indoctrination, which necessitate highly technical skills almost unknown to penitentiary institutions, who are already working to the point of collapse in everyday management. “The blueprint we propose is therefore involving the security agencies, the Orientalistic academics together with the chosen élite of the European Muslim communities”, as the principle protagonist of a new alliance to countering indoctrination and define new de-radicalisation strategies, building on the experiences and Best Practices developed in Arab countries and European countries such as Great Britain.
- Selection and concentration of resources: There is always the element of the hardliners in radicalism & terrorism. In almost all Europe, penitentiary institutions are more and more aware of the existence of inmates trained in the handling of prison revolts and breakouts and this new threat is gradually making itself felt. A strategy has been outlined to separate these hardliners from the other prisoners, to avoid proselytism and planning a target strategy just for them, based on the Italian experience of DAP and the AS2 security circuit, integrated with the guidelines of the UK-Prevent strategy.