Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

After release: Reintegrating jihadist offenders

Are terrorist suspects willing to reintegrate back into society? Can they reintegrate?

Daan Weggemans
Politie & Wetenschap Politie & Wetenschap

Whether they are in jail or after their release: terrorist suspects attract public attention. Some tried to recruit fellow inmates for their political battles, vigorously demonstrated against the regime under which they were detained or made new violent plans for the (near) future. When they are released from prison other issues arise: released terrorist suspects frequently are having difficulties reintegrating back into society. Are they willing to reintegrate? Can they reintegrate?

In this explorative study we focus on the reintegration of jihadist suspects who have been released from Dutch prisons. What happens to this specific group after their release has not been a subject to (much) previous research. We therefore are often unaware of what happens to these former detainees after they leave prison. There have been excellent studies focussing on the conditions under which jihadists have been detained and what effects these could have. These studies also concentrate on the important question whether or not terrorist suspects should or shouldn't be isolated from other inmates.

Much less (academic) attention has been payed to the period after release. In the light of the grave risks of recidivism as well as the importance of effective reintegration for both detainee and society this study is an important first step in gaining more insights in the reintegration of jihadist offenders.

This explorative study has both theoretically and empirically analyzed different obstacles but  also opportunities for reintegration after release. There has been a specific focus on developments on the ideological, social and practical life-domains. Did ideological views change? What did social networks look like during and after imprisonment? And what about practical matters (e.g. finding a job)? Based upon interviews with released jihadist suspects and with dozens of professionals this study presents some first conclusions for dealing with jihadist detainees in preparation of, and after their release.  

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