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Future 'radicalized' Islamists trained in U.S. prisons

Many “radicalized” Islamists capable of committing terrorist attacks in the future are acquiring their jihad beliefs and training right now, within America’s state and federal prison systems, at the expense of U.S. taxpayers, a leading prison expert is warning.

BreakPoint’s Chuck Colson

“If, God forbid, an attack by home-grown Islamist radicals occurs on American soil, many, if not most, of the perpetrators will have converted to Islam while in prison,” said Chuck Colson, head of the Prison Fellowship ministry as well as author of BreakPoint commentaries.

He said in a recent commentary over his years of serving the needs of inmates that he’s seen, like others in the prison system, many instances of “the spread of an especially virulent form of Islam within American prisons.”

But, he said, thanks to a new report, ignoring that factor “is no longer an option.”

He cited a study called “Out of the Shadows” by researchers at George Washington University and the University of Virginia that concluded “radicalized prisoners” in U.S. prisons “are a potential pool of recruits by terrorist groups.”

Which means that if and when there is another terror attack within the United States, the perpetrators may not have learned their skills and hatred in Iran or Saudi Arabia, but in Colorado or California.

The study notes that the circumstances for many inmates can produce bitterness and resentment already. Into that atmosphere comes material distributed by extreme Islamic groups that advocate murder and mayhem on nonbelievers.

The study notes there is virtually no monitoring by “authoritative Islamic chaplains” who should be responsible to see that materials calling for violence are not permitted.

The information that now appears calls on Muslim prisoners “to wage war against non-Muslims who have not submitted to Islamic rule,” the study said.

“As a former employee of a radical Islamist group who is now a Christian told a Senate committee, ‘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,'” Colson wrote.

“Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) was correct when she called the situation ‘an emerging threat to our national security,'” Colson said.

Colson said the study suggests a new federal commission to investigate and produce an “objective risk assessment,” and he believes we should “get on with this.”

“I’ve been telling ‘BreakPoint’ listeners and readers and Prison Fellowship supporters about this for years. Now we have more than anecdotal evidence. We have a study from two prestigious universities on our side,” Colson said.

He said he can’t help but note the irony. His work with InnerChange Freedom Initiative prison rehabilitation programs has proven to be very successful at teaching inmates the skills and attitudes to participate in society.

The program, which now has chapters in 88 different nations, produced a 50 percent drop in recidivism in a study at one Texas location where it was operating.

However, because the voluntary program involves Christian principles, courts have ordered it out, mostly recently in a case in Iowa.

“The largely unimpeded spread of radical Islam throughout prisons coincides with increased opposition to the one really successful antidote – that is, the presence of Christianity,” Colson wrote.

“Progams like ours are working. We have studies to prove it. And they are the best solution to the alienation and rage that fuels conversions to radical Islam, as well as gangs and other hate groups inside the prisons. Making it harder for organizations like Prison Fellowship to operate within prison walls leaves jihadists and other radical groups as the only game in town,” he said.

He said that will, in all likelihood, allow for the development of more folks like Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, who converted to Islam in prison and tried to kill a jetliner loaded with people.

Colson’s BreakPoint, heard on about 1,000 radio stations, has addressed this issue several times, including one case in 2005 when authorities in Los Angeles were able to break up a terrorist plot. Native-born Americans of non-Middle Eastern descent, from within Folsom Prison, had organized a “holy war” against America and were planning to form various terrorist cells upon release.

He said what he wrote about first in 1991 is gaining attention now from other groups as well. He noted the “Weekly Standard” has called for an understanding of the “extremist indoctrination”‘ going on in prisons.

Colson said one group, the al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, was shut down after it spread hate literature throughout the prison systems, but that probably was “only the tip of the iceberg of what has reached and may still be reaching U.S. prisons.”

At the time the Los Angeles case was uncovered, Robert Mueller was FBI director. He told the Senate Intelligence Committee that prisons are fertile grounds for extremists who exploit inmates.

Also about that time there was a distribution from the al-Haramain Foundation of “The Noble Quran” into prisons holding about 10,000 inmates. It’s a special publication of the book that calls for jihad as an “obligatory duty on every Muslim.”

“Many editions of this translation that reached the prisons contained an appendix entitled ‘The Call to Jihad,'” said a blog contributor. “That essay is, quite simply, an exhortation to violence.”

“The Atlantic” noted that the leadership of Islam in American prisons is being provided by inmates, with many urging the outright overthrow of the U.S. government and praising extreme violence.

“Wahhabi influence is inculcating them with the same kind of militant ideas that drove the 9/11 hijackers to kill thousands of Americans,” Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., told The Associated Press.

Even the Islamic chaplain in the New York City Department of Corrections admits to the influence, and is proud of it. He was suspended, but not dismissed, from his job after he said the “greatest terrorist in the world occupy the White House” and “Zionists of the media” should not be dictating what Islam is.

The Prison Fellowship founder was known by politicians as the “hatchet man” for President Richard Nixon before his resignation from office. Colson converted to Christianity in 1973 and the Boston Globe later said, “If Mr. Colson can repent of his sins, there just has to be hope for everybody.”

He served a brief time in prison starting in 1974 for Watergate-related charges and two years later founded Prison Fellowship Ministries, now the world’s largest outreach to prisoners, ex-cons and crime victims and families.

Colson also has written more than a dozen books, and in 1993 earned the prestigious Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, donating the $1 million prize to Prison Fellowship.

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