Tag Archives: deradicalisation

Restricting bail and parole for those with terror links is no cure-all

The Conversation

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The new anti-terror laws COAG has proposed for Australia go far beyond those in the UK. AAP/Rob Blakers

Jessie Blackbourn, University of Oxford

Earlier this month, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed that the states and territories should enact new anti-terrorism laws. This came in the wake of a siege in the Melbourne suburb of Brighton, during which Yacqub Khayre killed a man and took a woman hostage.

At the time of the siege, Khayre was on parole for violent – but not terrorist – crimes. Shortly before Khayre was killed by police at the scene of the siege, he is alleged to have called the Seven Network and said:

This is for IS. This is for al-Qaeda.

Islamic State (IS) subsequently claimed the attack.

Khayre’s background is important in understanding why this attack produced a counter-terrorism response. In 2009, he was arrested and charged with terrorism offences in relation to the Holsworthy Barracks plot. Even though he was acquitted at trial, Khayre was tainted by the perceived association with terrorism.

COAG’s proposed new laws will capture this type of person. As Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull put it:

Violent criminals with terrorist links should not be walking the streets. They belong in jail.

The COAG proposals

Under the COAG proposals, states and territories will be required to:

… strengthen their laws to ensure that there will be a presumption that neither bail nor parole will be granted to those who have demonstrated support for or have links to terrorist activity.

Decisions on parole for those with a terrorism link will be taken out of the hands of the parole authorities. Instead, they will be the responsibility of state attorneys-general.

There are no clear details yet on how the legislation will define “links to” terrorist activity, or what behaviours will be captured by “demonstrating support for terrorist activity”. However, it seems likely that having associated with known or convicted terrorists in the past, or having been investigated for terrorism offences, will be covered.

So, had these measures been in existence when Khayre came up for parole, he would not have been released early from his sentence for violent crimes, and could not have carried out his attack.

Restricting bail and parole

Restrictions on bail and parole are not unusual in the terrorism context.

In the UK, bail is automatically denied to those arrested without warrant on suspicion of being a terrorist.

The blanket ban on bail is relatively uncontroversial. But both the two former independent reviewers of terrorism legislation, and the UK’s Joint Committee on Human Rights, have called for changes to allow terrorist suspects to apply for bail. The government has consistently rejected these calls on the grounds that denying bail to terrorist suspects is operationally useful, and has not been found to breach the right to liberty and security guaranteed in the European Convention on Human Rights.

Under a new law enacted in the UK in 2015, terrorist prisoners are no longer automatically entitled to receive parole once they have served 50% of their prison sentence.

Those convicted of terrorism offences are now required to undergo a risk assessment prior to parole being granted. They will only be released early on parole if the Parole Board decides they no longer represent a risk to the public.

However, the new laws COAG has proposed for Australia go far beyond those in the UK. They will restrict parole and bail to those merely associated in some way with terrorism, even when they have not be arrested for – or convicted of – a specific terrorism offence.

This is a significant expansion of Australia’s already extensive anti-terrorism regime.

Existing post-sentence restrictions

Two regimes already exist to prevent convicted terrorists from being released unsupervised back into the Australian community.

The control order regime, which was introduced in 2005, was amended in 2014 to enable a control order to be issued on the ground that a person has been convicted of a terrorism offence.

Once a control order has been issued, controlees are subject to a range of obligations, prohibitions and restrictions. This includes restrictions on movement and communications. Controlees can also be required to wear a tracking device and report to the police at regular intervals.

Second, under a newly commenced regime, a terrorist offender can be detained in prison under a continuing detention order at the end of their sentence if the court is “satisfied to a high degree of probability, on the basis of admissible evidence, that the offender poses an unacceptable risk of committing a serious [terrorism] offence if the offender is released into the community”, and:

… there is no other less restrictive measure that would be effective in preventing the unacceptable risk.

A continuing detention order can last for up to three years, and may be renewed at the end of its duration. It is a possibility that a convicted terrorist may never be released from prison.

Delaying the inevitable?

Neither of these regimes would have been applicable to Khayre, as he was not on parole for a terrorism offence. However, the police also had no specific intelligence that he posed a terrorist threat.

It is possible that his attack was spontaneous, rather than planned. It is also possible therefore, that Khayre would always have carried out this tragic act.

So, even if COAG’s proposed new laws had been in effect and Khayre had been refused parole, he would eventually have been released from prison after having served his full sentence.

Turnbull has said the new laws will be:

… a vital element in keeping these people who are a threat to our safety, and the safety of our families, off the streets.

But they will only do this during the relatively short period of time after someone would have been released, either on bail or parole. Once they have served their full sentence, they will be released into the community without any supervision.

It is important, therefore, that the government pays as much attention to the provision of rehabilitation and deradicalisation programs for those with potential terrorist links inside prison as it does on measures that appear tough on terrorism.

The ConversationRestricting bail and parole to people like Khayre who have links to terrorist activity, but who have not been convicted of terrorist offences, only delays their inevitable release. If they pose a threat during the parole period, then without rehabilitation and deradicalisation, they will still pose a threat when released at the end of their sentence.

Jessie Blackbourn, Research Fellow, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford

This article was originally published on The Conversation. (Reblogged by permission). Read the original article.

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God, religion and fundamentalism: an unholy trinity

The Conversation

Dianna Theadora Kenny, University of Sydney

There are many arguments for the existence of God – Anselm’s ontological argument, the cosmological argument, the teleological argument, the moral argument and the “immediate experience of God” argument. But if you don’t already believe, these arguments won’t convince you. They are post-hoc constructions to shore up existing beliefs.

The counter-arguments say that religion is a bad but entrenched idea. Religions peddle ugly doctrines that have ugly consequences. These so-called “holy books” variously demand the execution of “witches”, support slavery, endorse mass killing of infidels and heretics, waging of war, condemn homosexuality and denigrate women.

Religions promote division and inequality. They have in-groups (“chosen people”) and out-groups.

Enter Freud

The father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, said that religion is a collective neurosis shared by the masses to shore up civilisation. Religion has its roots in infantile helplessness and the longing for a strong father. Neurosis and religion have universal common roots in human nature and cognition.

Freud believed that there was a developmental progression over the course of history – from animistic and magical, to religious, and then to scientific explanations – in the way in which people perceive and explain the universe.

Each explanation becomes progressively less omnipotent and egocentric. It ends with the scientific view that we are mortal, finite, small in a vast universe, and helpless against the forces of nature.

Enter fundamentalism

Who falls prey to fundamentalist messages? I have developed an algorithm:

Fundamentalism = fear + magical thinking + social and political forces that create psychological vulnerability, rage, hate, envy, alienation and marginalisation + cognitive narrowing (for example, indoctrination).

As a result, the disenfranchised, embattled, denigrated and rejected, deprived and needy, traumatised and dispossessed, envious, hateful and rageful members of society are all fair game for the message of fundamentalist religious and politico-religious ideologies.

Membership of a fundamentalist group reverses these intolerable feelings. Fundamentalist ideology bolsters group self-confidence. Fundamentalism turns out-groups into in-groups that empower and enrich its members. They are now no longer denigrated and alone, but exalted as a select and chosen few.

Fundamentalists become warriors with a simple message of salvation that is found in a naïve and literal interpretation of ancient, sacred texts. Gone is the hopelessness and uncertainty of life. The path is straight; the goals are clear. However, to partake, one must relinquish one’s “self” – one’s individuality and “mind” – in order to render blind obedience to the collective ideology.

Acts of fundamentalist terrorism must breach an almost insurmountable barrier – the prohibition against the taking of life. Yet, these heights have been scaled and breached repeatedly in the course of history.

In addition to underlying motivations like socioeconomic inequalities, ethnic struggles and nationalist movements, to commit atrocities requires fundamentalists to have undergone “a long process of caricaturing, degrading and dehumanising” their targets, in order to create a rift between themselves (in-group) and their intended victims (out-group).

Enemies cease to be fellow human beings. They become infidels.

Religion and suicide bombing

Suicide bombing, like genocide, is characterised by the perceived need for purification. The term “ethnic cleansing” carries this meaning, as did former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s call for a return to the values of the Islamic ancestors, to cleanse mankind of the West’s impure and corrupted values.

Those who must be cleansed are necessarily impure and indeed evil. The cause – to rid the world of this contamination – is sacred and sanctioned by God.

Suicide bombing is more prevalent in occupied nations, in which the occupied resist, yet succumb to the constant humiliations as a result of their abject subjugation.

Repeated humiliations spawn impotent rage, frustration and despair that demand expression. For some, it signals a wish to be dead rather than endure further humiliation. Suicide bombing disables the military might of the occupier. It is the ultimate defiance of the oppressor.

The profiles of suicide bombers are disparate. Some are recruited from among the homeless and poverty-stricken. Others are recruited by imams, at mosques and by social media; and from among the affluent and well-educated who live abroad. Some are young boys brainwashed in the madrassahs, or widows and bereaved sisters of deceased jihadists who wish to expel their rage and grief about their loss in retaliation against a hated enemy.

On deradicalisation

Deprogramming a bomb or a missile is possible, but can you deprogram a terrorist? Radicalisation into fundamentalist violence follows four stages – pre-radicalisation, self-identification, indoctrination and action.

Deradicalisation, the process of persuading extremists to abandon the use of violence, is not simply a reversal of the radicalisation process. Careful assessment of individuals to identify the unique set of context- and person- specific factors motivating their involvement is essential.

Many countries – such as Singapore, Indonesia, the UK and the Netherlands – have implemented deradicalisation programs with varying degrees of success. The Indonesian prison deradicalisation program has been a failure: of 600 undertaking the program, only 20 deradicalised.

But, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s (PLO) feared military wing, the Black September Organisation, thought that radicalised members only “switched off” when the PLO gave them a:

… reason to live, rather than a reason to die.

The solution? They married them off.


You can read other articles in the Roots of Radicalisation series here.

Dianna will be on hand for an Author Q&A between 1 and 2pm AEST on Friday, July 3. Post your questions in the comments section below.

The ConversationDianna Theadora Kenny is Professor of Psychology and Music at University of Sydney. This article was originally published on The Conversation. (Reblogged by permission). Read the original article.


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