SEPTEMBER 19, 2006
Long considered recruiting stations for violent gangs, U.S. prisons have become a dangerous breeding ground for radical Islamic terrorists and authorities claim they don’t have the resources to prevent the serious problem.
A new report to be released this week by the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University concludes that U.S. officials are aware of the problem but are too cash-strapped to do anything about it. This allows Islamist extremists to target their vulnerable prison mates with Muslim readings that promote radicalization and violence, creating the sort of homegrown terrorism currently plaguing other countries.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons estimates that there are 2 million people imprisoned in the U.S. and around 6% of them are Muslim. There have been many high-profile cases of terrorists who became radicalized during incarceration, including British shoe bomber Richard Reid in a United Kingdom prison.
Others include former Chicago gang banger Jose Padilla, the “dirty bomber,” who converted to Islam while serving time in a South Florida prison; radical Whhabi Islam converts at northern California’s Folsom State Prison who plotted shooting rampages against three National Guard facilities, several synagogues and the Israeli consulate; an FBI informant who converted to Islam while serving time in a California juvenile detention center and later trained with the terrorist who kidnapped and beheaded an American newspaper reporter.
One counterterrorism organization offers a glimpse into how this radicalization process occurs by posting a variety of material, distributed in American prisons, to indoctrinate inmates. It includes Quran translations, by radical terrorists groups, that promote jihad and full force of weaponry. Another says all Muslims are obligated to undertake jihad by spending wealth or offering oneself for fighting in the cause of Allah and another says “teach your children the love of justice and revenge from the unjust like the Jews and the tyrants.”
None of this news to U.S. officials or lawmakers. After all, more than a year ago FBI Director Robert Mueller testified before Congress that “prisons continue to be fertile ground for extremists who exploit both a prisoner’s conversion to Islam while still in prison, as well as their socioeconomic status and placement in the community upon their release.”
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