Efforts to deprogram Islamic radicals in prison are failing

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Musa Cerantino when he was in court, before renouncing Islam.

By Michael Ashcraft –

Deradicalization programs designed to tame jihadists in prison are all utter failures because they try to convince fanatics that the Koran doesn’t mean what it says in plain language, says a former Australian jihadist in the March 31, 2022 edition of The Atlantic.

Musa Cerantonio, formerly a top propagandist for ISIS, laments the useless deprogramming program because they ineffectively try to teach militants that the watered-down Islam of the medieval Muslim theologians is more authentic than the unadulterated Koran.

“It’s idiotic,” Cerantonio says. “It doesn’t work. It has failed miserably time after time.”

Cerantonio’s comments come at a time when thousands of ISIS prisoners are ready to be released into society, in America and abroad, after serving relatively light sentences because prosecutors didn’t know whether ISIS militants ‘slaughtered Shias or cooked falafel,” says David Wood, a Christian apologist who monitors the Islamic community.

“How do you know the ISIS jihadi you’re releasing back into society isn’t going to go on a killing spree?” Wood says with meditative sarcasm. “Easy. You know he’s as gentle as a jelly bean because while he was in prison, you made him participate in a deradicalization program.”

David Wood with his best friend from college and convert to Christianity Nabeel Qureshi at Islamic events evangelizing.

The deradicalization programs fail because they ineffectually spin simple and clear edicts from the Koran: “fight those who don’t believe in Allah” and “when anyone leaves Islam, kill him,’ Wood notes on an Acts 17 Apologetics video.

There must be some irony that Wood, a diehard Christian, is in agreement with Cerantonio, a formerly diehard Muslim who now is a diehard atheist.

Cerantonio is currently finishing a sentence in Australia for his participation with ISIS. He’s the uncommon jihadist, the scholarly radical who is fluent in Aramaic, linguistics and Arabic history. It was his profound study that led him to detect plagiarism in the Koran, a finding that made him realize the Muslim’s holy book originated from man, not Allah.

Specifically, he compared closely the fictionalized exploits of Alexander the Great with its counterpart version of Dhu-l Qarnayn in the Koran and realized the sheer linguistic evidence inclined heavily in favor of the Aramaic version being the original, not the Koran’s.

An Islamist.

“I have been wrong these last 17 years,” Cerantonio wrote an Atlantic reporter. “Seeing individuals dedicate themselves to tyrannical death cults led by suicidal maniacs is bad enough. Knowing that I may have contributed to their choices is terrible.”

Today Cerantonio has reverted to his birth name Robert and is a follower of new atheist Richard Dawkins. He himself has persuaded two fellow jihadists to believe in evolution and abandon plans to return to terror, the Atlantic reports.

“Both of them have drastically changed their lives,” Cerantonio says. “They now denounce everything they were standing for before. I mean, they were planning to carry out a terrorist attack here in Melbourne—blow themselves up in a public square!

“I can actually speak to hard-core jihadists on a level that they understand,” he adds. “I thought, wow, I mean, surely, it can’t always be that easy. But who knows? Maybe it is.”

A jihadi in the United Kingdom

When dealing with jihadists, the soft sell – respecting the foundations of Islam while trying to divert the radical points to a more benign interpretation – doesn’t work, Cerantonio says. You must get the jihadi to see the entire religion as a fraud, he implies.

This has been Wood’s message since 2008. Unlike so many Christians who outreach to Muslims, Wood went hard on Muslims. While he was criticized by his fellows, the numbers of conversions to Christianity silenced the naysayers. With ebullient gratitude in the comments section of his YouTube channel, ex-Muslims galore thank his efforts, confess Christ, and predict the ultimate demise of Islam via the Internet.

Why did the intricacies of Hellenistic historiography get Cerantonio to renounce Islam while mass murder and sex slavery in ISIS did nothing to move him? The latter was consistent with Islam, Cerantonio replies.

Jihadis are being released from jail by the dozens now.

“I’m no longer a Muslim,” says Cerentonio, well aware that apostasy is punishable by execution. He knowingly puts himself in danger by renouncing Islam.

“I hope that my experiences may be of help in drawing others away from the same mistakes,” Cerantonio says.

The Atlantic article details one deradicalization program in a Saudi prison that aims to teach jihadists work skills to woo them into productive society. They run “a small business—complete with a CEO (himself a prisoner), an HR department, and a comptroller,” the article says.

“I couldn’t tell how successful the prison’s strategy would be,” admits The Atlantic reporter Graeme Wood (presumably no relation to David Wood).

“Beyond any doubt, however, is the failure of virtually every previous attempt to deprogram jihadists,” The Atlantic concludes.

Michael Ashcraft is a financial professional in California.