The opinionated view

We all have those, we have them almost all the time. Whenever we take a stance, it tends to be smitten by opinions, especially when it is an area where we are not expert in, at times we aren’t even up to date of the minimum required knowledge to give a decent point of view. We all do it and I am just like all others. So when I was given a point of view by the Dutch NRC newspaper, a newspaper that is actually a really good one. I decided to oppose that view. So there is every chance that you will side with them, and that is OK. Yet I feel that I have to oppose it, so here goes.

The newspaper (at gives us ‘A quarter of ex-terrorists end up in crime again’ the first issue rears its ugly head. It is the term ‘ex-terrorists’, there is no such thing as an ex-terrorist. When a person falls into that trap they tend to be a terrorist for life. Those who make that claim are not short sighted, they merely become sleepers abiding their time. The become sleepers to become awoken by lone wolves, by operatives and they are used as safe houses, holders of resources and optionally watchers. The quote “This is the result of research by the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR) and the Free University in Amsterdam into prisoners who were in the high-security terrorist ward between 2006 and 2020.” Yet the larger form is that 182 people are not the hole grail here. There is even debate whether all 182 were actual terrorists and that is not a stage I claim (others did), but the stage is larger, not the one that they were ready for.

A larger stage
There is an old saying ‘it is easier for an educated man to be a barbarian, than for a barbarian to be an educated man’ It is true, you see the social person had at one time an a-social past, through exposure or through acts, when we did so through acts a lot of us didn’t know better and over time were educated and we moved into a a less a-social path. We had options. The group of radicalised people never had that. They were pushed into the corner, they were trivialised and options for them were removed. That is the direct impact of discrimination and long term abuse from the secondary and tertiary groups of people around them. They got readied for life in Islamic State and the seekers know where to look. People like Shamima Begum are the simplest examples, ad they are not alone. 

This is where the problem starts. The quote “Ex-terrorists reoffend less often and later than average ex-prisoners” is the larger problem. A terrorist is not (by their standards) a criminal, IS is very clear in stamping that into them. The larger stage is that these terrorists become dormant, they lull the people around them to seep and places like IS can afford to wait for years, they became sleepers and that is the trump in the hold. The card that the people at times forget to look at and for that time if at all possible they will keep their noses clean, until the signal arrives. 

So when we get to “As a result, ex-terrorists sometimes end up back in their old extremist network for help. In the report, interviewed ex-terrorists tell how they help each other. Whether it concerns a place to sleep or a car, or ‘start-up capital for a small business’, you can always contact a (former) terrorist suspect. According to Rodermond, the joint stay in the terrorist department “not infrequently” leads to close friendships.” This is the problem too. You see these sleepers will set a new stage of contacts, a floating network that relies on private chatrooms like some Facebook games have and they learn to talk in a gaming language that mimics the game, but it has a secondary stage, and the stage is alerted by a mere word, a word that seems so natural in that speak, but it leaves the people with two interpretations of the same text. At times it is a stage of a typo, or a second emoji. And the problem is that there is almost no way to crack the code. There is no manual and the codes come from the network itself. The problem is not the Facebook game, it is that they tend to have several options and finding them all is a fools task. 

There is no such thing as an ex-terrorist!

And the most dangerous setting is given at the end. We see “According to the researchers, the terrorism department should better prepare the prisoners for a return to society. The heavily guarded department must have more opportunities to follow training courses or to perform work” yet here too the people involved do not get the problem. To succeed you need socialise and educate these people, not merely give them skills for jobs, the path from radicalisation is a long one and takes years, many years. Mainly because the months of ‘education’ can be undone by one message from an Islamic State minder, and they are everywhere, if you doubt that, then consider where people like Shamima Begum got radicalised in the first place. In the Netherlands you can optionally find these people in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. In Rotterdam they are list in the harbour district and in Amsterdam the tourist waves give them loads anonymity waves whilst the black money stags in Amsterdam give them additional cloaks of lessened visibility. 

All stages where the sleepers can be rudely awoken to continue the holy war, these terrorists signed up for that and that is what they will do, in part we radicalised them so they got in and like the Cosa Nostra, once in, you are in for life. As far as I can tell, there is no such thing as an ex-terrorist, there never was and so far there is no evidence that one exists. 

Still, it is a good article (though in Dutch), and the setting is interesting and I for one could be very wrong, I will admit that. In the first the evidence is seen by showing me an actual ex-terrorist. The second one is the evidence of undoing the radicalisation process. There needs to be something more civil and there we go wrong. These prisons are about ‘educating’ people on christian grounds. People like Shamima Begum were never christian, they were muslim and people tend to forget that. For all the good we claim we do, the people who got radicalised had actual grievances, often rooted in discrimination. How were you going to undo that kind of damage?

Think that over and consider how many ex-terrorists you can find.


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