Why Are ‘Deradicalized’ Jihadis Funding ISIS?

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Moroccan-born Dutch national Samir Azzouz (2nd R) is released from a prison in The Netherlands (Photo: MARCEL ANTONISSE/AFP/Getty Images)
Moroccan-born Dutch national Samir Azzouz (2nd R) is released from a prison in The Netherlands. (Photo: MARCEL ANTONISSE/AFP/Getty Images)

An in-depth investigation by the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad revealed how ‘deradialized’ jihadis are now sending money to ISIS smugglers.

In 2004, Moroccan-born Samir Azzouz brutally murdered writer and filmmaker Theo Van Gogh in Amsterdam in broad daylight on a public street. Azzouz, the leader of one of Europe’s largest Islamist terror groups, was arrested in 2006 for planning follow-up attacks against Dutch security and intelligence agencies.

Azzouz received a 13-year prison sentence, yet just seven years into that sentence he was released and pushed through a low-security deradicalization program. He was put in the care of a “moderate” imam, with the hopes Azzouz would adopt the imam’s view of Islam.

Yet Azzouz keep encouraging others to go in the path of jihad. In 2018, Azzouz, along with cohort Bilal Lamrani (who was also pushed through a deradicalization program) were found sending money to ISIS wives and smugglers.

NRC revealed that not only has Azzouz continued his radical propaganda encouraging others to fight, he’s also been raising money for the children and wives of ISIS fighters still within the Islamic State.

Speaking to the NRC, Azzouz claimed:

“If you know that children are dying from hunger, you help them. People who don’t help, they’re the ones who should be prosecuted.”

With money raised on the street or through app groups, funds are going directly to families of murdered Islamic State terrorists and to the smugglers helping them escape Kurdish refugee camps and into other jihadist rebel groups and ultimately back home to the Western countries they have come from.

Lamrani was eventually given a job as a youth counselor, ostensibly to teach them not to make the same mistakes as he did. He was also supposed to report on any of the young people who were becoming radicalized. In the end, Lamrani inspired at least two of his charges to go to Syria and become jihadis.

One assumes the experiences of these two men is the rule, rather than the exception, concerning the vast number of reports about the failure of deradicalization programs worldwide.

(The exception is possibly when a radicalized individual educates him or herself and chooses to become deradicalized, as in the case of Maajid Nawaz who detailed his journey in his autobiographical book Radical.)

“It is self-deceiving if you think you can impose deradicalisation,” related Jason Walters, the brother of the deceased Dutch terrorist Jermaine Walters, who was killed fighting for ISIS in 2015,  “I know literally no one who has changed through an intervention or program.”

Jason Walters also embarked on his own journey out of radical Islam (and eventually out of Islam altogether) through reading philosophy and watching the film Schindler’s List in prison. He now works for the Dutch government as a counter-terrorism consultant and is pursuing an advanced degree in philosophy.

It is for these reasons that Clarion Project initiated a preventing violent extremism program to stop radicalization from ever happening in the first place.

While deradicalization programs address the problem from the end of the “conveyor belt,” our program educates how to prevent those at risk from ever getting on this belt.

To find out about Clarion’s Preventing Violent Extremism workshop and seminars in your area or to become involved in this vital work, click here.



Do We Have the Patience for a Deradicalization Program?

5 Facts on America’s First Domestic Deradicalization Program

Report: Deradicalization Programs Are Failing


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