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Islamic Radicalization: From Idealism to Disillusionment

80 percent of Islamic State recruits have criminal records and some 20 percent were diagnosed with mental health issues

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A woman is seen near flowers and a flag placed in tribute to victims two days after an attack by the driver of a heavy truck who ran into a crowd on Bastille Day killing scores and injuring as many on the Promenade des Anglais, in Nice, France, July 16, 2016. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
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  • Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel,who killed at least 84 people by driving a truck through crowds in the French town was not a pious muslim
  • Several of the men involved in apparently Islamic State-inspired attacks had a history of crime
  • 80 percent of Islamic State recruits have criminal records and some 20 percent were diagnosed with mental health issues

PARIS -As authorities investigate the motives for a mass killing claimed by Islamic State in Nice late Thursday, analysts say the case appears to highlight a shift in the profile of those launching attacks in the name of hardline Islamist groups.

Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who killed at least 84 people by driving a truck through crowds in the French town, was not a pious, educated man in the mould of Mohamed Atta, one of the hijackers behind the 9-11 attacks in the United States in 2001.

Rather, neighbors and family describe him as a troubled man who lived apart from his wife and three children and drank alcohol, something forbidden by Islam.

“It seems that he was radicalized very quickly,” said French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve.

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That poses a big problem for authorities, who have put much of their focus on tackling hardline Islamist ideology by seeking to spread counter-arguments in schools and mosques.

Tunisia-born Bouhlel, who was shot dead by police, had several run-ins with the law, including a March 2016 conviction for hurling a wooden pallet at a driver in a road rage incident.

His sister also told Reuters he saw psychologists for several years before he left Tunisia in 2005.

His case echoes that of Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people at an Orlando night club in June in the name of Islamic State, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

A candle burns near tributes of flowers two days after an attack by the driver of a heavy truck who ran into a crowd on Bastille Day killing scores and injuring as many on the Promenade des Anglais, in Nice, France, July 16, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
A candle burns near tributes of flowers two days after an attack by the driver of a heavy truck who ran into a crowd on Bastille Day killing scores and injuring as many on the Promenade des Anglais, in Nice, France, July 16, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Mateen had a troubled youth, was disciplined often at school and, before carrying out his attack, researched medication to treat psychosis, a relative told Reuters.

“Islamic State is an organization which attracts a very broad variety of followers, from the most convinced, to the most adventurous, to the most unstable or psychotic,” said professor Rik Coolsaet, a terrorism expert linked to Ghent University in Belgium.

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Several of the men involved in apparently Islamic State-inspired attacks in Paris in November 2015 and in Brussels in March 2016 also had a history of crime.

Among those responsible in Paris, brothers Brahim and Salah Abdeslam had run a bar in a district of Brussels that was closed down after a police raid found drugs.

Brussels Airport bomber Brahim El Bakraoui, meanwhile, had been sentenced to 10 years in prison for shooting at police during a robbery. His brother Khalid, who also blew himself up at the airport, had got five years for car-jacking.

According to a recent Europol study, some 80 percent of Islamic State recruits have criminal records and some 20 percent were diagnosed with mental health issues.

“In view of this shift away from the religious component in the radicalization of, especially, young recruits, it may be more accurate to speak of a violent extremist social trend rather than using the term radicalization,” Europol wrote.

That creates a broader challenge for authorities seeking to thwart attacks, something made even harder if the perpetrators act without outside help, as appears to be the case in both Orlando and Nice.

“If more people follow the Nice example it will be a nightmare for security services as it is almost impossible to detect,” said Edwin Bakker, professor at the Centre for Terrorism and Counterterrorism at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands.

(Reuters-Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Mark Potter)

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Modi Appeals For A Regional Front Against Terrorism

India and Afghanistan accuse Pakistan of plotting terror attacks

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Modi Appeals For A Regional Front Against Terrorism
Modi Appeals For A Regional Front Against Terrorism, flickr

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday appealed for a regional front against terrorism and slammed attempts to “threaten” peace in Afghanistan, which accuses neighbouring Pakistan of causing trouble in its territory.

At the restricted session of the Shanghai Cooperation Summit in the Chinese city of Qingdao, Modi said the worsening situation in Afghanistan was “an unfortunate example” of terrorism.

India and Afghanistan accuse Pakistan of plotting terror attacks in their countries.

“All parties in the region should respect the sentiment with which (Afghan) President Ghani has taken courageous steps for peace,” Modi said.

He said it was “our common responsibility to ensure that reasons that threaten Afghanistan’s sovereignty and security are not repeated”.

Modi also talked about connectivity projects and said India was all for such programmes provided they respect the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

New Delhi opposes Beijing’s Belt and Road project, whose key artery cuts through the disputed Kashmir held by Pakistan and claimed by India.

“We have again reached a stage where physical and digital connectivity is changing the definition of geography. Therefore, connectivity with our neighbourhood and in the SCO region is our priority,” Modi said.

Modi also talked about connectivity projects
Modi also talked about connectivity projects, flickr

“We welcome any new connectivity project, which is inclusive, sustainable and transparent and respects country’s sovereignty and regional integrity.

“India’s active participation in the development of international North-South Transport Corridor, Chabahar port, shows our commitment.”

He also talked about regional security.

Also read: India Canada fight terrorism

He coined an acronym for the word SECURE: ‘E’ for economic development, ‘C’ for connectivity in the region, ‘U’ for unity, ‘R’ for respect of sovereignty and integrity and ‘E for environment protection. (IANS)