Home Diplomatic News A prisoner’s dilemma

A prisoner’s dilemma


By Peter Knoope. According to a rough estimate coming from UN circles, there are around hundred thousand individuals in prisons around the world for terrorism related offences. Many of these people will be released from their prison cell at one stage in time. Some sooner some later. Many of them will somehow come back to society. In terrorism, like any other serious crime, there is a reasonable chance that these people are welcomed back in their original violent environment. With more credibility because of the time they did. In which case the prison environment may have helped to increase societal security for some years, but not more, and sometimes even less that. Recruitment by these people,inside the prison environment, may have taken place. Other prisoners may have been open to the violent message of terrorists. For obvious reasons the prison population can be more susceptible to recruitment than youngsters outside the prison. It is therefore of the utmost importance to work with prisoners and work on rehabilitation and re-integration programs. This happens on a small scale in a number of European countries. But the bigger numbers of terrorist offenders are in prison in a small number of countries outside the EU. Based on experiences in a few countries with courageous governments, that have taken the lead in this domain, the world has gained enough knowledge and know how to describe the best practices in relation to prison rehabilitation. This is laid down in a document named the “Rome Memorandum on best practices of rehabilitation and re-integration”. This document serves as the starting point to increase knowledge and relevant programs in a number of states that wish to prevent people from going back to violence and extremism. Now these programs need to do everything possible to debunk the terrorist interpretation of reality, in many cases the Al Quaida narrative.  Rule number one is that if one wants to talk and lead someone out of the terrorist environment, one needs to have a proper understanding of the reasons why they feel attracted to It.

What brings a young man to feel at home in an extremist and violent
environment? Is it the comradeship? The heroism? Is it anger and
frustration? Is it lack of alternatives and future perspective? Is it a lack
of critical thinking and the attractiveness of “black versus white”
worldviews? The answers to these questions is hidden in specifics. We know from the personal history of a number of terrorists that a negative personal

experience in a young mans life can do the trick, societal exclusion and
collective deprivation is a condition, the welcoming new environment helps and the perspective of “something to live and die for” is certainly a factor
that adds to the attraction. But it is different in Mali, and not the same
there as it is in Pakistan or Indonesia. Let alone in Gouda or Antwerp. So
the country specific analyses of drivers of violence is important as a
baseline for policy development. And what is more, it is important to
prevent that young boy, leaving the prison on a cold windy morning, to run back to the warm welcoming environment of the comrades in the struggle against a perceived enemy.
We will need to understand how sentiments of alienation and humiliation can be exploited to the extent that young man turn violent and see no other way out than kill. Kill and terrorise as a message to the world expressing anger and frustration, hopelessness and nihilism. To stop this it requires a
profound and environment specific analyses of dimensions and dynamics.

An estimated hundred thousand prisoners for terrorism related offences may leave our prisons in the coming years. Unless we understand how and why they got there, we will not be able to address the realistic risk of them
rejoining the former violent circles that are comfortably welcoming them.

If we want to get them out, we firstly need to understand how and why they got in!

Previous articleIndian attendance at Commonwealth
Next articleCelebrating St. Maarten
DIPLOMAT MAGAZINE “For diplomats, by diplomats” Reaching out the world from the European Union First diplomatic publication based in The Netherlands Founded by members of the diplomatic corps on June 19th, 2013. Diplomat Magazine is inspiring diplomats, civil servants and academics to contribute to a free flow of ideas through an extremely rich diplomatic life, full of exclusive events and cultural exchanges, as well as by exposing profound ideas and political debates in our printed and online editions.

Exit mobile version