Prisons in the United States breed Islamic extremists
Lara Jakes Jordan:
Jailed Islamic extremists with violent interpretations of the Quran are taking advantage of scarce religious monitoring programs to breed terrorists in U.S. prisons, a study released Tuesday shows.
State and local prison officials struggle to track radicalized behavior by inmates or religious counselors, the joint study by George Washington University and the University of Virginia found.
Many prisons can't afford preventive programs; in California, for example, officials reported "that every investigation into radical groups in their prisons uncovers new leads, but they simply do not have enough investigators to follow every case of radicalization."
"Radicalized prisoners are a potential pool of recruits by terrorist groups," concluded the study, released at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on "homegrown" terrorists. "The U.S., with its large prison population, is at risk of facing the sort of homegrown terrorism currently plaguing other countries."
An estimated 2 million people are imprisoned in the United States; 6 percent of them are Muslim, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a counterterrorism consultant, told senators that "chilling" interpretations of the Quran were given to prison inmates when he worked for the al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, an international charity that served as a major al-Qaida financier.
The readings urged Muslims "to wage war against non-Muslims who have not submitted to Islamic rule," Gartenstein-Ross said in prepared testimony to the Senate panel.
"I know of only a few instances in which prisons rejected the literature we attempted to distribute - and it was never because of the literature's radicalism," said Gartenstein-Ross, who has since left the charity and converted to Christianity.
Prisons have long been considered recruiting stations for gangs and, more recently, terrorists, but little has been done throughout government to combat them. The Senate hearing came as law enforcement and intelligence officials focus on finding out how and why extremist homegrown sympathizers cross a line to become operational terrorists.
The panel's chair, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, called the matter "an emerging threat to our national security." Added Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., "While homegrown Islamic terrorism might not be as much of a threat as in say, Europe or some other places, we ignore the threat that does exist at our peril."
The report cited several high-profile cases of terrorists who became radicalized while incarcerated, including British shoe bomber Richard Reid. It also noted what authorities call a foiled plot of a potential shooting rampage against California military facilities, synagogues and the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles by followers of Kevin James, who founded the radical group Jamiyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheeh, or JIS, as an inmate at California State Prison in Sacramento.
Prisons Infested With Islamic Terrorists
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross' Testimony on Prison Radicalization (updated)