This Is London
August 21, 2008

Potential Islamist terrorists in Britain are not religious extremists or illegal immigrants, a leaked MI5 report warns.

The internal study of hundreds of known and suspected radicals says it is difficult to identify those most likely to commit atrocities as they often have well-paid jobs and families and are ‘demographically unremarkable’.

The Security Service report concludes that the vast majority are British nationals or in the country legally.

It says half are born here. The rest includes people who originally came to study or to join family or for economic reasons, as well as asylum-seekers who had fled oppressive regimes or violence. Many of these only became radicalised years after arriving.

Very few have come from highly religious households and most only practise their faith occasionally. The proportion of converts is above average.

Some are even known to have taken drugs, drunk alcohol and visited prostitutes.

But they are not especially prone to mental health problems or pathological personality traits.

They come from ethnic backgrounds as diverse as Pakistani, Middle Eastern and Caucasian.

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