The UK government is planning to require all jihadists who return to the UK to undergo psychological treatment as part of a deradicalisation programme. The programme could also be used in an attempt deradicalise others who support terrorist ideologies in the UK.
The Home Office announced last week that they would “be introducing a deradicalisation scheme, which will be mandatory where the law allows, for those who are further down the path to radicalisation and who need a particularly intensive type of support.”
It is estimated that around 850 individuals have travelled to Iraq and Syria to join Islamic State with around half returning to the UK.
Deradicalisation schemes tend to fall into one of two categories.
Some schemes are based on classical Islam and teach their students that certain criteria must be met before jihad is declared, such as authorisation from the properly appointed Islamic leader. This is the approach used in countries such as Saudi Arabia. However, classical Islam itself is part of the problem. It teaches that Muslims should rule non-Muslims and shari’a enforced on the whole world with non-Muslims given an invitation (da’wa) to accept Islam, before jihad is declared on them until them submit and accept either conversion to Islam, dhimmi status (for Christians and Jews) or death.
Other schemes are based on psychological counselling. The problem here is that though returning jihadis may well have some psychological problems, the primary motivation for them engaging in jihad against non-Muslims in theological. Thus mere psychological counselling does not solve the problem. It is significant that in the years following 9/11 public figures who refused to accept that there was any link between Islamic theology and violence ascribed Islamist terrorism to “socio-economic deprivation” in Muslim communities. Now the current trend is to ascribe it to “mental health problems”. Whilst this may be true in some cases, there is also a serious risk that it represents a dangerous denial of the truth – that it is particular interpretations of Islamic theology that are the primary motivations behind groups such as Islamic State – as they themselves openly acknowledge in their literature.