Two-thirds of British terror suspects are from middle-class backgrounds and those who become suicide bombers are often highly educated, a classified MI5 document reveals.
The paper, marked ‘Secret: UK Eyes Only’, also debunks the myths that terrorists and suicide bombers are ‘loners’ and ‘psychopaths’.
Instead, the security service says that 90 per cent of them can be categorised as ‘sociable’ and have a high number of friends.
The double-decker bus which was destroyed by a terrorist bomb in London on July 7, 2005
The 200-page document, titled Radicalisation Of Muslims In The United Kingdom – A Developed Understanding, was found by a Mail on Sunday reporter in the abandoned residence of the British ambassador in the Libyan capital, Tripoli.
The research paper, which was intended to be read by only MI5 agents and officers, was produced after studying 90 terror suspects investigated by the security service.
While some of the information in the document comes from the interrogation of suspects, other data came from surveillance by spies and informants.
The report gives a rare glimpse into how security service agents view Islamic extremists, and what MI5 believes are the main causes of Muslims becoming radicalised.
While the report says that Western foreign policy and the perception that ‘Islam is under siege’ plays a role, they are not the main cause.
Instead, the four causes of radicalisation are:
- ‘Trauma’, such as the death of a loved one: Ten per cent of terror suspects became radicalised after a life trauma, says the report.
- ‘Migration’: A third of all extremists ‘migrated to Britain alone’.
- ‘Criminal activity’: Two-thirds of the sample had criminal records.
- ‘Prison’: Muslim prisoners who are not religious are often radicalised in prison. The report identified 60 known Islamist extremists operating in British jails.
The study says that the ‘mean age’ at which a Muslim becomes radicalised is 21.6 years, while anyone between the ages of 16 and 32 is regarded as vulnerable.