Surprise: Terrorists in federal prison are passing their “message” along to potential recruits

ABC News’ Brian Ross reports disturbing news about how some terrorists already locked up in federal prisons are “beating” the system and passing their “message” along to others:

White House officials said Tuesday Americans have nothing to fear from the Guantanamo detainees to be transferred to Thomson Correctional Center in Illinois, but in at least two cases, individuals connected to terror who are already in federal prisons have managed to beat the system.

One passed messages to his followers, and another seriously and permanently injured a guard during an escape attempt.

The federal Bureau of Prisons says it already holds some 240 individuals who it says are connected in some way to acts of international terrorism.

The most dangerous of the al Qaeda connected terrorists are held at what’s known as the supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.

The 20th hijacker Zacharias Moussaoui, the shoe bomber Richard Reid, the first World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef, and dirty bomber Jose Padilla, have essentially disappeared inside the Colorado facility.


They are supposed to be cut off from the outside world, but the man called the blind Sheikh, Omar Abdel Rahman, convicted of inspiring attacks on the U.S., used his lawyer to pass messages back to his violent followers in Egypt.

But even a warning from the FBI to officials at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, a federal prison in New York, wasn’t enough to stop one al Qaeda terrorist, Mamdouh Salim, from making a bloody escape attempt in the year 2000.

His victim was prison guard Louis Pepe who Salim first blinded with hot sauce stored up in these empty honey bottles he somehow hid in his cell. Then Salim stabbed Pepe in the eye with a sharpened comb that went deep into Pepe’s brain, causing permanent damage.

The concerns many of us have expressed over bringing the Gitmo terrorists to the United States is not new. Back in 2004, the NYTimes wrote about an investigation done by the Justice Department on the issue of infiltration by Islamofascist terror outfits like Al Qaeda in US prisons:

WASHINGTON, May 4 — Groups promoting extremist brands of Islam have gained a foothold in American prisons, and counterterrorism officials believe Al Qaeda are likely to try to use the prisons “to radicalize and recruit inmates,” according to a Justice Department investigation.

In a report from the Justice Department inspector general’s office, investigators said safeguards were so loose in the 105 federal prisons that inmate chapels “remain vulnerable to infiltration by religious extremists.” A copy of the report, to be released on Wednesday, was obtained by The New York Times.

The investigation grew out of concerns among members of Congress that groups training Muslim chaplains had terrorist ties and were breeding extremism. But the investigation found that the problem of “radicalized” prayer sessions was less a reflection of the chaplains than of unsupervised inmates who were allowed to lead their own worship meetings.

“Too many opportunities for abuse of this practice exist,” the report found.


A classified addendum to the report details cases in which counterterrorism officials assert that people leading prison prayer sessions — including authorized chaplains, volunteers and inmates — may have ties to terrorist groups.

In a briefing Tuesday for Congressional officials, the inspector general’s office said it found evidence that volunteers leading prayer services had been linked to people who showed up on terrorist watch lists, and that people associated with Al Qaeda had already managed to recruit support within the federal prisons, said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York.

Federal prison officials “were putting out the welcome mat to any group that wanted to infiltrate the prisons,” Mr. Schumer said. “There was virtually no vetting of who would become a chaplain or a volunteer, and there was virtually no supervision. It was an invitation to danger.”

Senators Schumer and Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, requested the investigation and held a hearing last year after concerns focused on the case of a Muslim chaplain, Warith Deen Umar, who had run New York State’s Islamic prison program and was a consultant in the federal prisons. Mr. Umar was banned from the state prison program after he reportedly expressed admiration for the Sept. 11 hijackers and espoused a radical brand of Islam, but he maintained he was misquoted.

In 2005, Brian Ross (again) reported:

A terrorist plot to attack military and Jewish sites in the Los Angeles area this coming Sept. 11 was devised inside a cell at the New Folsom State Prison, a maximum-security prison outside Sacramento, Calif.

Law enforcement officials told ABC News that Peter Martinez, a former Oakland street gang member, and his cellmate Kevin James organized the plot and recruited as many as 13 other inmates in a jihad against the United States. The two inmates have since been placed in special confinement, according to officials.

“Al Qaeda recruits in prisons. They really do,” said Edward Caden, a retired prison administrator in California. “Prisons are a prime, prime target for terrorist recruiting. It is a ripe population.”

The plot, which called for dozens of casualties as part of a holy war against the United States, was foiled after Levar Washington, a former inmate at the Folsom Prison, and his accomplice were arrested for a string of gas station robberies.

Washington had entered prison a convicted thief and left as a militant black Muslim who had sworn allegiance to a violent jihad, according to law enforcement authorities.

That same year, the LAT reported:

The possibility of connections between prison gangs and potential terrorists has been a worry for U.S. officials for some time.

There are at least several significant investigations into the alleged use of federal and state prisons as bases for recruiting potential Islamic terrorists, according to a senior FBI counterterrorism official in Washington.

Investigators emphasized that they have not proved the alleged plot in the current [Folsom] case was hatched at the prison. Nor are they certain how many of about two dozen targets involved in the case might have been the site of a planned terrorist attack.

“We have no indication so far how many they might have gone after,” said a law enforcement official involved in the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the continuing investigation.

The investigators say they do know that an Islamic group called Jamiyyat Ul Islam Is Saheeh, or JIS, has had a presence at the [Folsom] prison for about five years and that its followers include both inmates and former inmates. The group’s name translates from Arabic into the Assembly of Authentic Islam.

Devan Hawkes, a gang specialist with the Corrections Department, said the group was the smaller and newer of two Islamic gangs, referred to by agents as “disruptive groups,” known to be operating in California prisons.

Will Ross’ latest report about terrorist recruitment messages being spread around in the federal prison system have any impact on the Obama administration’s decision to move some of the Gitmo thugs to a near-empty prison facility in Thomson, Illinois? Don’t bet on it. Even with polls showing a majority of the American people oppose bringing any Gitmo detainees onto US soil, it’s the Obama administration’s way or no way. They know best, and history be damned.

Speaking of Illinois prisons, you have to shake your head in frustration at the irony of the decision to house some Gitmo detainees there in light of a report today from the Associated Press that talks about how some violent offenders were released from prisions in Illinois after serving as little as 11 days. Why? In an effort to … save money (via the Jawa Report):

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Critics heaped scorn on Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on Monday over a secret prison program that allowed hundreds of inmates — some violent offenders — to be released early, including some who only spent 11 days behind bars.

An Associated Press report released Sunday showed that more than 850 inmates — including repeat drunk drivers, drug users and even people convicted of battery and weapons violations — were released early under the program since September.

This happened because the Corrections Department abandoned a policy that all prisoners serve at least 61 days and gave inmates months of good-time credit upfront.

Quinn ordered a “top-to-bottom” review of the practice on Sunday after seeing the AP report. The Democrat would not say on Monday whether Corrections Director Michael Randle told him about the unpublicized practice, which is separate from an early release program of 1,000 inmates Quinn announced in September to save money in a budget crisis.

“The director of Corrections has broad authority, broad discretion,” the Democrat told reporters in Chicago. “Having said that, I’m the governor, I make the final decisions. If I feel that something needs to be looked at and reviewed, that’s the way it will be.”

But critics and supporters criticized the program. They suggested an examination to determine who’s responsible, said if the governor didn’t know, he should have, and stressed that inmates entering state prison should stay at least 30 days.

Sigh …

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