Australia’s multi-million dollar terror ‘deradicalisation program’ has only turned ONE jihadi away from extremism in prison
The Australian government has poured millions of dollars into a program designed to to ‘deradicalise’ jihadi inmates in prison – but so far it has only worked on one man.
Mazen Touma, who was jailed in 2005 after police thwarted a double terror attack on Sydney and Melbourne, was released in June after twelve years behind bars.
The federal government has praised Touma, now 37, as ‘a model reformed prisoner, someone who turned his extreme views around with the support of family, counselling and working throughout the prison compound’
Sometimes deradicalisation programs succeed, and Mr Touma’s case was judged by the relevant experts to be such a case,’ Senator George Brandis said in June 14 after his decision to grant Touma parole with two years left on his 14-year sentence.
The Herald Sun reported that Touma has abandoned his radical beliefs and wants to work with authorities in deradicalising a new generation of Muslim youth.
However, authorities have questioned his ‘reformation’, explaining that is is ‘extremely difficult’ to tell whether a prisoner has completely abandoned their extremist views.
The majority of the 18 other men arrested with Touma over ‘what was regarded as Australia’s most sophisticated terrorism plot’ are still in Goulburn’s Supermax prison.
Among the plotters of the 2005 attack was Khaled Sharrouf, the Sydney-based extremist who fled to Syria and shot to global infamy after he photographed his young son holding the severed head of a Syrian official.
But a spokesman for the Attorney-General’s Department told the Daily Telegraph that an evaluation of rehabilitation programs in Australia found they have ‘achieved visible changes in many participants’.
A further $47 million was allocated to tackling prison radicalisation this year, some of which will go towards building a second Supermax jail – which will eventually house all jailed terrorists in NSW.
But prison radicalisation expert Dr Clarke Jones said he was not surprised that only one inmate had been successfully deradicalised.
He said that keeping all terrorist inmates in the same prison compound wasn’t helping to temper their extremist views – and suggested they be dispersed throughout multiple jails.
‘I don’t think the design of the program, the concept of deradicalisation and the way they (terrorism inmates) are incarcerated is effective,’ the Australian National University expert told the Daily Telegraph.
Questions have been raised regarding the effectiveness of the program, given that Touma seems to be a solitary successful case.
The man, who once professed his fondness at being compared to Osama bin Laden, was one of hundreds of inmates undergoing the expensive deradicalisation program behind bars.
In Victoria, terrorist inmates are immersed in a $6.4 million Community Integration and Support Program, which attempts to ‘moderate a prisoner’s extremist views with the help of respected community imams’.
But the Islamic Council of Victoria withdrew their support from the program in June, according to The Australian.
The decision was publicly confirmed three days after acquitted Yacub Khayre went on a murderous rampage in Melbourne – after he had been acquitted of terrorism offences.
It prompted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to say that he never should have been released.