ISIS Turning Criminals into 'Super-Gang' of Terrorists: 'They Are the Perfect Fit'

ReutersHeavily armed ISIS fighters joined by foreign recruits march on a street in Iraq in a show of strength.

A "super gang" of hardened remorseless criminals — that's what the Islamic State (ISIS) is creating to further its campaign of terror worldwide.

That was one of the recent findings made by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence at King's College London, CBN News reports.

The research centre collected extensive data on 79 recent European militants with criminal pasts. Their profiles suggest that the networks and underworlds of criminals and terrorists are increasingly merging, according to The Washington Post.

The criminals recruited by ISIS easily transition to committing violence for a different cause — the Islamist extremist cause, the Centre said in a report.

This practice makes ISIS different from other Islamist groups such as al Qaeda that recruit their militants from the ranks of radicalised students, intellectuals or other previously nonviolent individuals, the report pointed out.

"They are the perfect fit," said Peter Neumann, the centre's director and an expert on radicalisation, referring to the criminals joining the Islamist extremists. "Islamic State doesn't require any intellectual sophistication. It doesn't ask you to study religion. It makes it all like a computer game."

Neumann said their study showed that 80 percent of those involved in recent terrorist plots had criminal convictions.

The Centre's report said ISIS offers criminals a chance at "redemption" without requiring a change in behavior.

Since the recruited criminals are already used to violence, it's easier for the ISIS leadership to convince them to join a campaign of terror. Moreover, the criminals are already familiar with weapons and are adept at "staying under the radar" and logistical planning, the researchers said.

They fear that extremists with criminal records could plan large-scale attacks more easily than before because of their underworld contacts and previous experience in dodging the law.

The report also warned that about 40 percent of terror plots in Europe are now being financed by the proceeds from the sale of illicit drugs and counterfeit goods. For instance, one of the terrorists who perpetrated the attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo financed his activities by selling counterfeit sports shoes on the streets of Paris, the report said.