ISIS fighters returning home to Britain will jump to the top of the list for social housing and will receive counseling, as well as employment and educational opportunities, so that they don’t carry out terrorist attacks.
According to documents obtained by the Daily Mail, up to 20,000 extremists previously investigated by MI5 will be eligible for the government program, codenamed Operation Constraint.
According to the Independent, the Westminster attacker Khalid Masood, the Manchester bomber Salman Abedi and the London Bridge leader Khuram Butt are among those 20,000 that were investigated but were not constantly under surveillance.
The program, which would provide opportunities to former jihadis from ISIS’ territories in Syria and Iraq, is set to begin next year, the Daily Mail reported.
With the program, select individuals will be contacted, assessed and questioned before a panel is created to determine if they are a risk and can be integrated into society. They will then have updated risk assessments.
Former government counter terrorism adviser Col. Richard Kemp questioned the program.
“I think it’s a very much mistaken policy,” Kemp told the Telegraph. “When you look at the profile of many of the people who have been involved in terrorist attacks in the U.K., or travelled overseas, they do not come from deprived backgrounds.”
“If someone is inclined to be an extremist, you are not going to bribe them into not being a terrorist. It’s not going to change them,” he added.
Dr. Usama Hasan, the Quilliam Foundation’s head of Islamic studies, told the Independent he hoped that returning ISIS fighters would be prosecuted and jailed before going through de-radicalization programs. However, there are concerns that those who go to jail could radicalize the inmates or form terror cells. Another concern is that they would leave jail and have no job, housing or support, making them tempted to carry out terrorist acts.
A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “The Government is committed to doing everything possible to protect our communities from the threat of terrorism.”
“To respond to this threat, it is vital that we use all the means at our collective disposal to divert people away from terrorist-related activity and we are exploring the best ways of doing this with our partners,” the spokesperson added.