For immediate release | Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Guns and Glory: Criminality, Imprisonment, and Jihadist Extremism in Europe

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Breaking the Links Between Criminality and Terrorism Key to European Security

(New York, N.Y.) - Terrorist groups are recruiting and radicalising criminals in an effort to carry out attacks on European soil. A new joint study by the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) and the European Policy Centre (EPC), Guns and Glory: Criminality, Imprisonment, and Jihadist Extremism in Europe, reveals the dangerous and evolving nexus between criminal and terror groups and what European governments must do to break the link.

Through detailed case studies of 10 European countries, the study documents the complex problems of countering jihadist radicalisation and the challenges the continent is facing. The 10 countries studied include: Albania, Belgium, France, Germany, Republic of Ireland, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

Terrorist groups, in particular ISIS, are increasingly recruiting individuals with criminal backgrounds and using their skills and connections in the criminal world to enhance their ability to carry out attacks. Prisons in Europe—many of which are underfunded and overcrowded—often act as incubators for jihadists while also facilitating the expansion of networks between criminals and terrorists.

Report co-author and CEP Senior Advisor Ian Acheson said: “It is not difficult to conclude that there is a systemic failure in how we are currently approaching jihadism and radicalisation. A state alone cannot defeat the terrorist threat. We face a serious and enduring threat from terrorist organisations in Europe. Prisons are incubators—there is a steady stream of vulnerable, often violent people coming in, many with personality disorders, mental illnesses who feel aggrieved and alienated. To tackle this problem, we need to be as agile as those who seek to do harm.”

The study was officially launched on September 24 in Brussels with a keynote speech from current EU Commissioner Sir Julian King, President of EPC and former President of the European Council Herman van Rompuy, and Paul Van Tigchelt, Director of the Coordinating Unit for Threat Analysis (OCAM), Belgium.

To read the report, Guns and Glory: Criminality, Imprisonment, and Jihadist Extremism in Europe, please click here.