A total of 17 inmates from different penitentiary centers participate in a program – in the pilot phase – of intervention in violent radicalization processes of a jihadist nature, according to sources from the Ministry of the Interior revealed to La Vanguardia. A 66-session program that aims to prevent and prevent those who carry it out – prisoners for crimes related to jihadism or those susceptible to being recruited by terrorists – from carrying out violent activities in the future. That is, their beliefs do not lead them to criminal behavior.
In the department headed by Fernando Grande-Marlaska, there is concern about radicalization processes in prisons, considered “a favorable environment for recruitment processes by radical inmates of people prone to the use of violence,” according to the latest National Strategy. against terrorism. This was expressed by the minister on several occasions during the last meeting he held with parliamentary spokespersons to explain the reinforcement of some anti-terrorist measures, in the context of escalating tension in the Middle East.
Penitentiary Institutions launched a new intervention program last March, which has replaced the deradicalization plan that began in 2016 with the Minister of the Popular Party Juan Ignacio Zoido. A total of 52 inmates participated over six years in the previous workshops, according to prison sources. Right now there are 17 who are part of the new program, which was born after two years of joint research between the National University of Distance Education (UNED) and Penitentiary Institutions with 523 interviews in 35 penitentiary centers.
The objective of the interviews was to understand the factors that cause violent radicalization, refine the element of risk assessment and develop a specific treatment program, since until then there was a framework program with general guidelines.
The program, as explained by the same sources, has a psychosocial nature because it addresses the emotional, social, cognitive and behavioral aspects over 16 months in which the focus will also be on preventing relapses. And it always has a voluntary nature so that it is not perceived as an imposition. This, in turn, is a difficulty in attracting inmates.
The majority of operations carried out by the State Security Forces and Corps are more related to indoctrination or disseminating jihadist postulates, and not to committing attacks. Hence, many of the inmates do not feel identified as jihadist prisoners, which adds complexity to attracting inmates to the program. There are currently 67 prisoners – convicted or pretrial – for crimes related to jihadism; another 40 inmates for other crimes under surveillance because they engage in recruiting or proselytizing behavior, and 56 inmates at risk of being recruited or radicalized. In total, 163. At the end of 2021 there were 213. At the beginning of 2020, 265.
To make decisions both at the level of security and treatment, and observe the changes that these types of inmates develop, Penitentiary Institutions have made available to centers an updated risk assessment instrument with 63 indicators that prison workers must complete to take decisions. The previous document had 12 radical violence factors and 27 risk factors for proselytism, recruitment and violent radicalization.
The Interior is concerned about the danger of former jihadist prisoners. The latest high-profile case has been that of Mustafa Maya, considered one of the biggest recruiters of jihadists in Europe. Maya was arrested on October 23 after being released from prison after having served an eight-year sentence imposed by the National Court.
According to data to which this newspaper has had access, five people convicted of jihadism have reoffended once free for the same crime of terrorism.