More for the Guardian Comment is Free which is always fun as it attracts some interesting responses and rather immediately too. So far only a few by the looks of it, but maybe more. I also see they still have that diabolical picture of me. This builds on something I have written previously for Jamestown, and would be a fascinating source of further research, but unfortunately no direct leads at the moment. Any thoughts or reactions, or pointers to other interesting work on this subject very welcome.
UK prisons: incubators for terrorism?
If we refuse to help prisoners who convert to Islam in prison, especially after they leave, the indoctrination will continue
- guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 4 February 2009 14.10 GMT
Much of the coverage into Dame Anne Owers’ report about Long Lartin prison focused upon the growth of gangs. Conjuring images of television prison violence, one prisoner reported that “all violence is gang related” and the prison was turning into “an American style jail”. An underlying issue that was only hinted at in the report is the problem of the spread of violent Islamist extremist ideas in prisons.
The actual problem itself is very hard to quantify or measure: prison services are notoriously closed mouthed, and the spread of violent Islamist ideologies are hard to measure in any objective way. What is certain, however, is that there are clear precedents of individuals radicalised in British prisons who went on to attempt to carry out terrorist attacks: Richard Reid the “shoe bomber” and 21 July 2005 plot leader Muktar Said Ibrahim were both radicalised while serving prison terms for petty crime, and a significant number of other individuals who have been incarcerated on terrorism charges have also spent some time in prison. Overall it is estimated that there are somewhere between 90 to 130 prisoners currently in Britain’s prisons for “al-Qaida-linked or influenced” offences, including a number who are proselytising leaders like Abu Izzadeen, Abu Qatada and Abu Hamza.