Criminal pasts, terrorist futures: European jihadists and the New Crime-Terror Nexus


14 November 2016


Egmont Palace, 8bis Place du Petit Sablon, 1000 Brussels

The presence of former criminals in terrorist groups is neither new nor unprecedented. But with Daesh/Islamic State and the ongoing mobilisation of European jihadists, the phenomenon has become more pronounced, more visible, and more relevant to the ways in which jihadist groups operate. In many European countries, the majority of jihadist foreign fighters are now former criminals. Alain Grignard, a Brussels Police Commissioner, described Islamic State as a “super gang”.

A new report by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) explores the nature and dynamics of this new crime-terror nexus. Based on a database which contains the profiles of European jihadists with criminal pasts, it explains how jihadism has been used to curtail and condone involvement in crime; how the “redemption narrative” helps Islamic State recruit former gang members: why prisons have become places in which jihadist recruitment and networking takes place; and how criminal backgrounds have facilitated terrorist operations, including the financing of attacks through petty crime, such as drug dealing, fraud, and illicit trade.



17h15: Registration

18h: Lecture by Peter Neumann, Professor at the Department of War Studies, King’s College London, and Director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR). Chaired by Rik Coolsaet, Honorary ordinary Professor at University of Ghent and Senior Associate Fellow at Egmont

18h45: Q&A with the audience

19h30: Drinks reception