Terrorist attacks have increased in Europe during the last two years. The attackers have announced their allegiance to Isis. But the question is: Do they become terrorists after being inspired by radical ideology of Isis or are they already criminals and they find their ways by Isis?
According to media reports, police declarations and the attackers’ families, most of terrorist attackers were criminals as well as drug users and later on became radicals in prisons.
The two brothers Ibrahim and Khalid El Bakraoui who committed suicide bombings in the coordinated attacks in Belgium on March 22nd, 2016, had done many crimes before: One brother was involved in an attempted robbery at a currency exchange office and he had stayed in prison ten years before his suicide attack. The younger brother was jailed for bank robbery, kidnapping, carjacking and possession of kalashnikov rifles.
Mohamed Salmene Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, who carried out the 14th of July 2016 attack in Nice, had committed five criminal offenses and armed violence. According to his father he suffered from depression and was also addicted of alcohol and drugs. Just few months before the attack he started visiting a mosque. French investigators found images that linked to radical Islamism on his computer.
Anis Amri, who did the terrorist attack on 19 December 2016 in a Chrismas market in Berlin, had fled from Tunisia to escape imprisonment for stealing a truck. He had been sentenced in absentia to five years in prison with violence. Before that he had been arrested several times for possession and use of drugs. According to his family, he was addicted to drink alcohol and drugs. He had arrived for the first time in Italy in 2011 and there he was sentenced to be four years in prison because of violent riot that he made in a reception center for refugees on the Island of Lampedusa and he had been radicalized in Italian jails later on.
Khalid Masood, who attacked people with a car pedestrians on the pavement along the south of Westminster bridge and stabbed a police officer on 22 March 2017, had been sentenced to two years in prisons for committing knife attacks and six months later for possession of an offensive weapon. According to his family he was drugs and heavy cocaine user since the age of 18 years. Many media reports published that he converted to Islam and he became radical in prison.
How could criminals be attracted by Isis?
The social media are a vast worldwide tool used by Isis to get more supporters. It produces high quality films and videos which are translated to many languages. These videos often contain strong men who are fighting, are considered to be attractive to these people who have a great desire for killing or they are full of despire and frustration of their home countries. Also they provide enough reasons to be aggressive in the community they live in, by showing videos of innocent people who are suffering in the Middle East or war countries, just to stir their feelings and push them joining Isis to establish the “Umma” dream. In fact these islamic radicalists kill Muslims in the middle East and Africa by bombing and suicide operations especially in Iraq and we have seen recently this great dilemma in Musel, one of the city in Iraq.
Maeghin Alarid, the writer of the book “Recruitment and Radicalization: The Role of social Media and New Technology”, mentions in her book that many people who are radicalized online are not devout Muslims. Quite the contrary; some do not consider themselves very religious at all. She adds also “One brief moment of intense emotion evoked in them while they watch a Youtube video of innocent victims in Africa or the Middle East can be all it takes to spark their interest”.
Recently and after the Westminster attack in London, we have seen Amber Rudd, the home secretary in UK, criticizing tech firms of not doing enough to stop terrorists spreading propaganda and the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, has also accused firms over their failure to remove extremist matrials. On the other hand, the main problem is islamic radicalist mentalty which means not accepting the others and being aggressive with people who are different and this mentalty could be at homes, worship places, everywhere and it could be resolved by spreading tolerance to culture and accepting others.1