Thursday, June 16, 2011
House Examines Islamization in U.S. Prisons Chrislam.
WASHINGTON - For years, law enforcement officials have said the prison atmosphere is ripe for radicalization recruitment, from violent Islamic extremism to white supremacy and Latino gangs.
And with about 2.3 million people currently locked up in America, many lawmakers say that's dangerous for the U.S.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., led a hearing Wednesday on the growing Islamic radicalization behind bars. He warned the threat in U.S. prisons "remains real and present."
The most well-known examples are former convicts Richard Reid, known as the "shoe bomber," and Jose Padilla, who was convicted of conspiring to support terrorists.
Wednesday's hearing was the second meeting by lawmakers meant to analyze homegrown terrorism and Islamization.
This session highlighted other terror plots that involved contact with people in prisons, like the "Lackawanna Six" from Buffalo, N.Y. and the "Virginia Paintball Jihad Network."
A Senate report also unveiled three dozen Americans who converted to Islam in prison, but are now in Yemen -- the homebase for al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula.
Experts say Islam can be a good influence. But infiltration by radical clerics, plus a lack of standards and practices, create risks both inside and outside the prison walls.
"Instead of providing a balanced, peaceful, contemporary perspective of one of the great and peaceful religions of the world, we are left with a hijacked, cut-and-paste version known to the counterterrorism practitioners as 'Prislam,'" said former assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Smith.
Democrats at the hearing charged that the threat is overblown and discriminatory, suggesting prison gangs and lone wolves pose a greater risk.
Republicans accused their opponents of being short-sighted and blinded by political correctness.