this strategy of jihadists to hide their radicalization

► Where does the term “taqiya” come from?

Derived from the verb tawaqqâ in Arabic, the word taqiya originally refers to “caution” or “fear”. The term is commonly translated today as “concealment.” Often used to designate a jihadist practice which consists of masking one’s commitment to violence, this term is absent from Koranic texts. “There is no theological basis for taqiya, explains Tarik Abou Nour, imam, theologian and president of the Institute of Islamic Higher Education in Paris. In the Quran, lying is forbidden and is considered a sin. Faith excludes lies: you cannot be a believer and lie. »

There taqiya is a practice that appeared in the Middle Ages. At that time, the Shiites, persecuted by the Sunnis, saw in dissimulation a way to practice their religion without being discriminated against. This technique was also used during the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th century, when some Muslims decided to hide their faith or pretend to convert to Christianity. “It was also a way of protecting oneself against torture and escaping certain deathadds Tarik Abou Nour. Concealment was tolerated in order to survive but we were not yet talking about taqiya. »

According to the theologian, this concept, as we understand it today, appeared in the 20th century: “We started talking about taqiya in the context of the Iran-Iraq conflict in the 1980s and during the politicization of religious conflicts. Before, this term did not exist. »

► What does “taqiya” mean today in jihadist ideology?

Today, taqiya refers to the way in which individuals hide their ideological radicalization. This is a technique used by certain terrorists to “camouflage” their intentions and thus go under the radar of the intelligence services. Or even by radicalized prisoners engaged in a deradicalization process to feign good faith with penitentiary institutions.

In France, the use of the term is recent. “The media coverage of the term taqiya intervenes with Mohammed Merah. On returning from Pakistan and after receiving his mission order, he will begin to live like a Westerner for a few days. Before committing the act, he was in a nightclub and drinking alcohol”explains Anne-Clémentine Larroque, specialist in Islamism, lecturer at Sciences Po and author of the book The Identity Hole. On the repressed memory of the mercenaries of Islam (PUF, 2021).

However, the researcher warns about the use of this term which, for her, has above all become a media phenomenon: “It’s a very overused word today; gold, the taqiya is not necessarily the subject of a permanent strategy on the part of terrorist organizations. Each individual applies it as they wish. » Anne-Clémentine Larroque sees it rather as a way for the Islamic State “to legitimize its action by taking words of Arab-Muslim history hostage”.

► How to detect “taqiya”?

The concept of taqiya above all reveals how complicated it is for institutions to spot the next act of radicalized individuals. The author of the knife attack which left one dead and two injured on Saturday December 2 in Paris is an example of this. Radicalized since 2015, Armand R.-M. , a 26-year-old Franco-Iranian, had already been sentenced to five years in prison for criminal conspiracy to prepare an act of terrorism in 2016, before being released in March 2020. He had assured the various authorities having broken with radical Islam.

” There taqiya practiced in prison consists of telling the magistrate or religious mediator: “I am disengaged.” This is difficult to spot during a diagnostic interview. Today, there are several people who evaluate deradicalization: psychologist, religious mediator, judge, etc. We are multiplying the possibilities for measuring the disengagement of a radicalized person. But it is possible to pretend or act. That’s the complexity of it.”estimates Anne-Clémentine Larroque.

Furthermore, certain profiles of terrorists suffer from psychological disorders. It is difficult to know, in these cases, whether it is a deliberate concealment or inconsistencies in the individual’s journey.

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