by Hugh Fitzgerald
The problem, according to British prison authorities, is that “we have been too successful.” By that he meant that the police have been able to locate, arrest, and send to prison almost all of the Jihadis who have been involved in terrorism in the U.K. This has led to a notable increase in the population of Jihadis inside prisons, where they engage in highly successful efforts to both convert non-Muslims to Islam and to radicalize both those new converts, and those who are already Muslims of the inoffensive kind. The problem is discussed here: “UK Prisons Are an Urgent Warning About the Threat of Islamic Radicalization,” by Patrick Dunleavy, Algemeiner, April 8, 2021:
“We have become victims of our own success.”
Those sobering words were among the findings in a report regarding Islamic radicalization in the United Kingdom’s prison system.
The country’s successful counter-terrorism strategies thwarted a number of terrorist plots during the past decade. That success led to prosecutions under the UK’s Terrorism Act, which more than doubled the population of convicted terrorists in British prisons.
The record in handling those inmates is less impressive, former UK counter-terrorism analyst Eilish O’Gara wrote in a paper published last month…
The problem, as the report found, was that the “efforts at fighting terrorism and stamping out the sources of extremism” seemed to stop once the terrorists were incarcerated. No real reason was given for that.
Counter-terrorism officials and prison administrators have long known that prison walls cannot prevent a terrorist from acting or influencing others.
It is impossible for the guards to monitor all the exchanges between prisoners at meals, in the prison library, the exercise yard; and during the five-a-day canonical prayers; the guards have enough to do without following conversations – which in any case may be in Arabic or Urdu. The Jihadis are very good at hiding their efforts at proselytizing in prison for militant Islam.
Convicted terrorists make up .03 percent of the UK prison population — roughly more than 220 inmates — yet prison specialists are monitoring between 500-800 inmates for extremist views. Where did they come from? They certainly didn’t just hatch overnight.
Only 500-800 inmates in the entire British prison system of 85,000 hold “extremist” Muslim views? How do the authorities know that? Given that many Muslims have repeatedly shown that they are masters of deceit, hiding their true views from those they believe are enemies (practicing the Muslim arts of taqiyya and kitman, two forms of religiously-sanctioned deception), and revering Muhammad, who claimed that “war is deceit,” how hard is it for them to hide their radicalizing of fellow Muslims, or their attempts to convert Infidels to Islam?
Studies have shown that dispersing terrorists among the general population increases the risk of radicalization. Prisons then become incubators or “breeding grounds,” as one study found.
Incarcerated terrorists exert enormous influence on vulnerable inmates. UK terrorist watchdog Jonathan Hall acknowledged that convicted terrorists are “automatically” given a higher status by other inmates when they enter the prison. Some have likened it to rock-star status.
By virtue of their crime and notoriety, they are seen as leaders.
In the topsy-turvical world of prisons, ordinary morality is turned on its head. The biggest and baddest of them all, the terrorists, do possess rock-star status. And there is also the fear factor. Muslim inmates everywhere in the Western world provide a ready-made group that non-Muslims join – by converting to Islam – in order to find safety in the dangerous gang-divided world of prisons. Converts to Islam suddenly find they have a gang of intimidating “bruvvers” who will stick by them and protect them when others may be ready to rumble. And those who are already Muslims are impressed with those tough Jihadists who have put their lives on the line for Islam.
The problem with “rock stars” is they often attract an entourage. Charismatic terrorists can do the same in prison.
To counteract this type of radicalizing influence, the UK in 2017 constructed three separation centers. These were not new prisons but rather “jails within jails” used to isolate convicted terrorists from the general prison population.
For a variety of reasons, the separation centers were never adequately utilized. As a result, two of the centers were closed, and only five of the more than 200 incarcerated terrorists are currently housed in the remaining center.
These jails-within-jails did not work. The isolation was imperfect. Even the slightest door left ajar – figuratively speaking – will be taken advantage of by imprisoned terrorists to communicate the radicalizing message of terrorists. And there are many common areas – the prison yard, the mess hall, the clinic, the library – that will allow those in the “jails within jails” to keep in touch with the other prisoners. Terrorists were assigned to three different “separation centers” which only increased the possibilities of their making mischief by spreading their ideology among others. They needed to be kept confined to one prison, among those exactly like themselves.
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson defended the closing of the separation centers, saying: “The vast majority of extremist prisoners can be effectively managed in the mainstream prison estate.”
Recent terror attacks by individuals like Usman Khan, Sudesh Amman, and Khairi Saadallah say otherwise. As an inmate in the general population, Amman had access to violent jihadi videos.
This piquant detail makes one wonder about what the British prison officials consider adequate supervision. How did “violent jihadi videos” manage to circulate in a prison? Aren’t prison cells routinely searched? What about the prison library, the laundry, the clinic? Where did the video player come from – was it supplied by Her Majesty’s Government on the assumption that the inmates would be watching The Sound of Music, or Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, or other videos of that innocuous ilk, as they sat peacefully in the prison library? Why wasn’t Sudesh Amman, who went to prison for his terrorist connections, under heightened observation? What fantasy world do these prison officials live in?
Saadallah was able to communicate with fellow inmate Omar Brooks, a radical Islamic cleric also known as Abu Izzadeen, who is tied to the terror group Al-Muhajiroun. Both were in the general prison population at HMP Bullingdon.
As Omar Brooks was already known for ties to a terror group, shouldn’t he have been watched like a hawk? Yet he was apparently able to communicate with one Saadallah, another Jihadi. Security in British prisons has apparently been handed over to the Keystone Kops.
In 2016, the UK implemented the Desistance and Disengagement Program (DDP). The program was designed to de-radicalize convicted terrorists who were released from prison. Later, it was expanded to include those terrorists still in prison and other inmates who had been radicalized while incarcerated.
We all know how that turned out. Just look at what Amman did, within a week of his release, stabbing several Infidels. Or Usman Khan, out on early release because he had convinced the prison authorities that he had given up radicalism, and was a perfectly peaceful Muslim. His deception worked; he was let out, and almost immediately he stabbed two people to death.
The vast majority of the program’s participants were reportedly either “pretending to sleep in class,” refusing to participate, or feigning compliance. Jonathan Hall admitted in a report last month that “No one knows whether DDP is effective.”
No, we do know perfectly well that the DDP program has been comically ineffective. Those forced to attend those deradicalizing sessions feigned sleep, or refused to participate or, most diabolical of all, pretended that they had become “deradicalized,” providing just the right answers that their prison supervisors were hoping for. But they were all impervious to the DDP that some psychologists, little acquainted with the depth of Muslim deception, must have dreamed up to “deradicalize” convicted terrorists.
O’Gara’s report went on to outline the organized structure of Islamic gangs operating in the UK prison system. The hierarchy consisted of leaders, recruiters, and enforcers. And while the leaders and recruiters were described as being “unwavering in their radical interpretation of Islam,” the enforcers were simply described as having “a propensity for violence.” The enforcers were responsible for implementing Sharia law in the prison.
Muslims in British prisons are the most dangerous of the various gangs that are ethnically or religiously based. They are still a minority – making up 18% of the total prison population (and 4.8% of the total population) — but white prisoners have described an atmosphere of fear engendered by the Muslim prisoners, who are quick to use violence. They enforce Sharia law in the prison; they make sure that even non-Muslim prisoners are forced to observe Muslim dietary laws. They take over public spaces for their five-a-day prayers, and do not allow non-Muslims to make noise during prayer time. Their “enforcers” make sure that it is not the guards, but the Muslims, who hold sway inside the prison gates.
This same structure was observed in the United States almost 20 years ago. Operation Hades, a multi-agency investigation into Islamic radicalization in the prison system, which I participated in, outlined the organization of radicalized inmates from prison to prison. The roles were the same, and most of the networking between the faithful was done during Jummah services in the prison mosque.
The best time for networking among Muslims in prison has always been during the extended service of Friday Prayers. Non-Muslims are not present; the Muslim prisoners can choose a prayer spot next to someone they want o discuss matters with in perfect confidence. This may be the most important place for networking, but there are other places, including the prison yard, the library, the clinic, the prayer room, that also provide the possibility both of talking to fellow terrorists and of radicalizing other Muslims.
There also appears to be a connection between the rise of Islamic radicalization in UK prisons and violence against prison staff. Given these failures, the UK appears caught in a downward spiral when it comes to dealing with prison radicalization. Nothing they’ve tried has been proven to be effective….
Another example of the bloomin’ obvious. What is Islamic radicalization if not the transforming of a Muslim believer into a violent True Believer, who will naturally want to harm the Infidel guards who represent the Infidel state that the True Believers resent and wish to destroy?
A concerted effort is needed by Western democracies to develop effective strategies that deal with recently-released terrorists and those radicalized in prison. The longer we wait, the greater the threat grows.
The author says we need “effective strategies” to “deal with recently-released terrorists and those radicalized in prison.” But he doesn’t suggest even one “effective strategy.” His advice stops where it should begin. So let’s suggest, on his behalf, what kinds of things would improve the situation.
First, put all the most dangerous “radicalized” prisoners in the same prison. Do not spread them out in separate prisons, as the British did, nor put them in “jails-within-jails.” Do not put any non-Muslims, who might be targets for conversion, in that one prison. Ideally the several hundred of those “radicalized” prisoners now spread out in British prisons would, when confined to one place, have only themselves to talk to; neither non-Muslims, who might be converted, nor regular Muslims, who might be targets of radicalization, should be in the same prison as the True Believers. Living among others just like themselves, what further mischief can they spread? They will be bottled up, like cockroaches in a bottle.
Second, end early release for Muslim prisoners. Several of those early-release prisoners, including Amman, proceeded to murder Infidels. It’s a diseased sympathy that lets would-be terrorist murderers out to strike – as they have been doing – again. Lengthen the sentences that are now handed down initially; for those convicted of terrorism-related offenses there should be no reduction in sentences, simply because they claim to now be “de-radicalized.”
Third, along with putting all those identified as “radicalized Muslims” in one prison, assign ordinary – i.e., unradicalized – Muslims to Muslim-only prisons, where they will not have the possibility of intimidating, and converting, non-Muslims. The prisons will thus be of three types: the first will house only radicalized Muslims; the second will contain only ordinary Muslims; the third will have only non-Muslims. That should prevent both prison conversions of non-Muslims to Islam, and prison radicalization of Muslims.
Fourth, for the prisons with Muslim inmates, both radical and regular, hire guards who know some Urdu or Arabic, and are able to keep tabs on what is going on among the Muslim prisoners. The prisoners need to understand that they are under constant surveillance, that they can no longer take for granted that they can communicate in a language unknown to the authorities, and that plotting, or even discussing, future attacks is a criminal offense that may lengthen their sentence.
That’s a handful of suggestions. There are others that might make the “Muslim prisoner problem” more manageable. Some will scream about the “civil rights” of Muslims being violated, but that’s nonsense. Muslim prisoners will continue to have the same rights as non-Muslim prisoners, the same kinds of cells, the same food, the same prison facilities. What they won’t have is the possibility of spreading their dangerous ideology to other Muslims, or to non-Muslims, an ideology, that has already led to the deaths of nearly 40,000 people since 9/11, and has prepared some Muslim minds to kill hundreds of thousands more.
First published in Jihad Watch.
Great suggestions. Is anyone listening?