Criminals convert to extremism because it gives meaning to their life and makes them feel better about doing wrong, according to a consultant fellow at the Royal United Services Institute.
Khalid Masood has been identified as the man who carried out the attack on Westminster this week. It is understood that he was a serial offender, with previous convictions including assault and GBH, and converted to Islam whilst in prison.
Afzal Ashraf, who worked as a counterterrorism strategist in Iraq, told Julia Hartley-Brewer that those with a criminal past who convert to extremism are an "ideal fit" because they are already immoral, and it "gives a bit of meaning to their otherwise sad, desperate and warped life."
He believes it allowed them "to feel what they’re doing is less wrong" and they're trying to pass off criminality, which is "a major part of their worldview" as an ideology.
Ashraf added that he thinks an effective way to counter terrorists would be to "counter the impression of success of these organisations and make them fail politically."
Listen to the full interview to find out more