Part Two: Islam in American Prisons
By Kathy Shaidle
RightSideNews Copyright © 2010
First Published in 2009, relevant today
“One in 10 inmates behind bars turns to Islam.”
It was small story in a local newspaper called the Daily Herald out of Everett, Washington, but it spread quickly around the internet, thanks to that startling claim.
The paper’s February 2009 investigation declared that so-called “prison Islam” was the fastest-growing religious group in U.S. correctional facilities.
Some of those worshippers claim affiliation with the Nation of Islam (NOR), a black separatist movement that was launched and promoted by two convicts, Elijah Mohammed and his protÃ©gÃ© Malcolm X. Strictly speaking, however, NOR has little in common with orthodox Islam; it is more accurately described as a political pseudo-religion, held up to African-Americans as an alternative to “pacifist” “Eurocentric” Christianity.
However, Lawrence Mimiya told the Daily Herald that most Muslims in prison today are Sunni converts. Mamiya, a professor at Vassar College who studies Muslim prison ministries, says that “just one in five who convert to Islam while in prison continue on in that faith once they are released.” (Note: the number of Muslims in the U.S. population at large is estimated at one percent, or 8 million individuals.)
Some experts question the importance of such “1 in 10” statistics, however. For example, by their own admission, many inmates convert to Islam merely to receive special perks, like prayer rugs, incense and superior halal food.
However, that fact should still give readers pause: after all, these endless “religious” demands demonstrates radical Islam’s innate sense of superiority, and its demand to be seen as “special.” It doesn’t help matters that groups like the ACLU file lawsuits to guarantee such special treatment to Muslim inmates. After a 2008 suit, for example:
“U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer approved an agreement on Wednesday that allows [Wyoming] prisoners receiving religious meals to keep their meals in their cells until the next meal is served. It also requires the prison to install a new microwave for inmates that won’t be used for pork, which is forbidden to Muslims and members of some other religions.”
In another lawsuit settled in November 2008, a California jail was ordered to allow female Muslim inmates to wear “county-issued” headscarves – and to pay $45,000 in “damages” to the aggrieved prisoner.
Robert Spencer of JihadWatch notes the ironic insanity of such lawsuits:
“Once again a Muslim in America demands that non-Muslims accommodate his particular practices and beliefs, rather than considering that he has to adapt his own behavior to American mores — especially since he is in prison!”
Indeed, Islam teaches that “infidels” are obliged to pay the “Jizyah” – an onerous tax/ransom – to their Muslim superiors. Many radical Muslims view the booty won in such parasitical lawsuits as a variety of “jizyah” – a “ransom” they are forced to extort surreptitiously until they can establish their worldwide “caliphate.”
However, in some ways, ACLU collaboration with our enemies is a laughable sideshow when compared to more serious implications. A highly regarded 2006 study called “Out of the Shadows“ simply states the obvious: that “tight-knit communities of Muslims in prison are ripe for radicalization, and could easily become terrorist cells.”
Stephen Schwarz of the non-profit group Islamic Pluralism explains why:
“Radical Muslim chaplains, trained in a foreign ideology, certified in foreign-financed schools and acting in coordination to impose an extremist agenda have gained a monopoly over Islamic religious activities in American state, federal, and city prisons and jails.”
Richard Reid, the so-called “shoe bomber” and Jose Padilla, the “dirty bomber”, are two of the most famous Muslim convert/prisoners turned would be terrorists.
If captured and incarcerated after committing or plotting terrorist acts, Muslim radicals create further problems within the international prison system, according to a 2008 report by the NEFA Foundation.
“While in prison,” according to the report, “jihadists have caused officials fits by radicalizing fellow inmates, planning jailbreaks, distributing propaganda to associates, continuing to exercise operational control over their organizations, and plotting attacks.”
Change has been slow in coming. Only recently has the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP) begun conducting more thorough background checks on religious “service providers” such as Muslim chaplains. According to the 2007 research paper “Radicalization: Behind Bars and Beyond Borders,” the FBOP has relied on “just ten Muslim chaplains for the entire federal prison system. These ten chaplains were responsible for vetting and endorsing contractors and volunteers who enter prisons to provide religious services, a Herculean task when one considers the thousands of contractors and volunteers who enter prisons each month.”
Encyclopedia of Terrorism author Harvey W. Kushner is an internationally recognized authority on the subject. His first hand experience running educational and vocational programs at New York’s Rikers Island prison has given him a unique perspective into the way the system operates.
He explains that, along with political correctness and the constant threat of costly, frivolous lawsuits, the prison system’s entrenched bureaucracy and “culture” make reforms difficult. Overstretched administrators sometimes find it beneficial to permit gang activities – Islamic and otherwise – because that way inmates will “police” themselves, albeit crudely.
Kushner adds that given the current economic climate, anti-jihadist prison reforms will now be even lower on the list of priorities than ever before.
Clearly, Americans have reason to be concerned. In some respects, the very institutions intended to keep the public safe are instead serving as accidental breeding grounds for violence and radicalism. Since large bureaucratic institutions like the Federal Bureau of Prisons are notoriously slow to evolve, it would be unrealistic to expect this situation to change in the immediate future.
Meanwhile, after being released from prison, Muslim felons return to the community and attain employment in Muslim run businesses. Along with halal food restaurants, these businesses (according to Harvey Kushner) include Nation of Islam security outfits, employed by local law enforcement to keep order in largely African American communities.
Some ex-cons even drift towards so-called Muslim compounds also see todays press release on 35 compounds in the US, where they may have access to firearms. This phenomenon will be the subject of the next installment in our series “Muslims in America.
Right Side News Special Series written by Kathy Shaidle
Kathy Shaidle blogs at FiveFeetOfFury.com. Her new book, The Tyranny of Nice: How Canada crushes freedom in the name of human rights – and why it matters to Americans, features an introduction by Mark Steyn. Shaidle is also an advisor for the International Free Press Society.