Daesh may be targeting people with mental health problems, boxtops warn
Herald Scotland, Aug 4 2016
Police said they are keeping an open mind over the motive behind the attack in central London, and said terrorism was “one line of inquiry that we should explore.” The Russell Square knife attack follows warnings that Islamic State may be targeting people with mental health problems to inspire them to carry out such incidents. Police said they are keeping an open mind over the motive behind the attack in central London, and said terrorism was “one line of inquiry that we should explore.” The killing is currently being investigated by the Metropolitan Police’s homicide team with the support of the force’s counter-terrorism unit, but Scotland Yard said early indications suggested “mental health is a significant factor in this case.” A report from Europol last month said recent academic research has shown that around 35% of the perpetrators of “lone actor attacks” which occurred between 2000 and 2015 suffered from some sort of mental health disorder. A previous paper published by the EU law enforcement agency said a “significant proportion” of foreign fighters had been diagnosed with mental health problems before joining IS. One estimate put the number at 20%, while another suggested it was even higher. Senior counter-terrorism figures in the UK have raised concerns that IS is deliberately targeting propaganda at people with mental health problems to encourage them to carry out violence. Scotland Yard Commander Dean Haydon said material is aimed at the vulnerable to inspire atrocities. Speaking in June, he said:
If you look at some of the propaganda that’s coming out of IS and Syria and elsewhere, part of their propaganda is specifically targeted in relation to the vulnerable. We’re not just talking about mental health here, we’re talking about vulnerable individuals within the community.
Earlier this year it emerged that psychologists were being deployed to work alongside counter-terrorism units. Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, the UK’s most senior counter-terrorism officer, previously described how authorities were seeing a “very different dynamic.” Last year he told MPs around a quarter of investigations involve “vulnerable” people, adding:
So you have young people dealing with mental health issues and other challenges.