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Thursday, February 19, 2009

European jihadists go underground

Prisons and private homes have taken over from mosques as recruiting hubs for Islamist radicals in Europe, a shift that cannot be tackled simply by short-term government security measures, an academic said yesterday.

Under pressure from state surveillance and disapproval from local communities, activists who once trawled high-profile mosques for recruits increasingly use more discreet venues including makeshift prayer halls and bookshops, said Peter Neumann, a political scientist at Kings College, London.

"This pattern of withdrawal from open agitation is consistent across Western Europe," said Neumann, author of "Joining Al Qaeda," a report on radicalisation in Europe.

"A lot of open activities that used to go on at mosques are now taking place in private flats, as mosques themselves become more vigilant and restricted," he said.

"Recent years have seen the emergence of radical Islamic prison gangs which - although not always overtly political in outlook - are aggressive in their rhetoric."

Neumann said such gangs provided inmates with a protective social network and a sense of self-esteem, the report says.

I suppose that the fact that European mosques no longer openly advocate jihad is somewhat of an accomplishment.