Shaun Greenough is the Case Strategy and Mentor Supervisor at The Unity Initiative (TUI), a specialist intervention consultancy based in the United Kingdom that focuses on rehabilitating individuals convicted of terrorist offenses; training prison, probation, and police staff; tackling absolutist mindsets in the wider community; and advising governments on counterterrorism strategies. Prior to joining TUI, Greenough served in a variety of counterterrorism roles and managing operational and intelligence aspects of the investigation into the 2006 transatlantic airline plot for the Thames Valley Police Special Branch. When this unit was subsumed into the Southeast Counter-Terrorism Unit in 2009, Greenough managed intelligence gathering and was involved in efforts to protect the 2012 Summer Olympics. In 2013, after 30 years of service as a police officer, he began working on the Prevent pillar of the U.K. counterterrorism strategy, including between 2017 and 2018 as a regional manager of Prevent referrals in the Southeast region. Earlier in his career, Greenough was involved in several police investigations of the IRA.
Editor's note: Paul Cruickshank advises TUI on counterterrorism issues.
CTC: You recently left government to begin work with TUI, a specialist intervention consultancy founded by Muslims that focuses on rehabilitating individuals convicted of terrorist offenses; training prison, probation, and police staff; tackling absolutist mindsets in the wider community; and advising governments on countering-extremism strategies. We previously featured the insights of both Usman Raja and Angela Misra, the husband-and-wife team who founded the organization, in this monthly interview feature.1 What led you to make the switch?
Greenough: I got to know Usman and Angela back in 2013. I was at the time working on Channel cases within the Southeast Counter-Terrorism Unit and part of my role then was to commission interventions, and I got to know them through commissioning them to take on intervention cases for us. What struck me with Usman and Angela was that the way they approached things was very different, and it involved not just trying to change a bit of view point here or a bit of a view point there. The work they did was much more holistic in that it looked to totally strip back people's understanding of faith and then rebuild it in a much more holistic kind of way in terms of how they fit in in the wider community, [with] respect for everybody. TUI is focused on providing mentoring for individuals to give them a better perspective of how they fit into the wider community and give them a better ability to become a fully integrated member of wider society. I was extremely impressed with the deeper, holistic way that they worked. By approaching it in this way, it seemed to me, they had a better chance of having a sustained result.
Some of the cases that I got them into were some of the more difficult and slightly more complex cases that were slightly more long-term and needed much deeper work. I was impressed with what they were able to do, and they had an impressive ability to easily resonate and interact with people. TUI has worked with difficult individuals with deep-seated extremist worldviews who have been involved in extremist groups such as al-Muhajiroun.
Fast forward to 2018 and I'd reached a point where I thought that I might move on from the police side of things. Usman asked me if I fancied a change and work for them. I thought he was joking at first, but it became evident that he wasn't. I decided that I'd make the jump and get a different perspective on everything.
Since joining TUI, I've been trying to get new jobs off the ground, where they've been referred to us. The work is actually very similar. I'm interfacing with police forces and engaging with our mentors on the same kind of issues I was working on within the Southeast Counter-Terrorism Unit. It's dealing with the same people and the same agencies, but it's just from a slightly different perspective and a different link in the chain from where I was before. TUI works independently, but alongside some of the other agencies involved.
The role I play is the jigsaw; I do a lot of the interacting with the agencies who may be stakeholders in the case. For example, we've got a lot of cases where probation service is involved, so I'll be liaising with probation, I'll be going to new case review meetings, I'll be helping get new cases off the ground and working with the new voluntary strand cases, looking at how we get those cases off the ground. I work behind the scenes coordinating things, going to the case review meetings, and helping support TUI's team of mentors with any issues as well.
CTC: From your perspective, why has TUI been so successful in rehabilitating individuals?
Greenough: In a nutshell, it revolves around having individuals who are fully committed to making a difference with this type of work. When you put the amount of work in that Angela and Usman do, you couldn't do that unless you were fully committed to what you were doing and fully believed in it. They're fully committed to what they're doing, they know what they're doing works, they can have a real impact on people's lives, but also by doing this work, they--and we as a group--are building a more inclusive and safer society for all of us. They have a lot of credibility due to their work in the wider community over many years; this means that they are respected by everyone, even some of the extremists.
I'm committed to try and help them sort of take it all forward. We're now building a new community strand, which requires a slightly different perspective and can be slightly more tricky in terms of getting it off the ground, and I think there is room for more work in prisons. The community strand involves working with individuals on a voluntary basis. Some of these people have been in trouble with the authorities for various reasons.
It's a growing field of work. They've become extremely skilled in what they're doing. They've got some really good people working for them now as mentors. And they've got some very significant cases ongoing, so it's about trying to continue with this work and continuing to try to grow it.
CTC: More recently, you worked as a referrals manager for the Preventa dimension of U.K. counterterrorism efforts in the southeast of England. What did this entail?
Greenough: We basically...