Tags: Homegrown | Terrorists | Incubate | Behind | Bars

Homegrown Terrorists Incubate Behind Bars

Thursday, 14 November 2002 12:00 AM

Islamic expert Daniel Pipes believes "it's indisputable" that many prisoners who convert to Islam are being indoctrinated in anti-Americanism.

"Prisoners are upset. Add the kind of grievances that these individuals have and you have an explosive mix and a very ripe population for anti-American, anti-Western ideology," Pipes told CNSNews.com. Pipes is the author of the recently published book "Militant Islam Reaches America."

One such prisoner was Jose Padilla, the one-time Chicago street hood who converted to Islam while serving jail time and then allegedly conspired with al-Qaeda terrorists to unleash a "dirty bomb" on American soil.

Admitted shoe bomber Richard C. Reid, converted to Islam while behind bars in England.

Pipes thinks prisons must stop allowing political infiltration of any kind.

"Religious succor and guidance are welcome, but the chaplains must be strictly, strictly controlled so they don't engage in any kind of political activities," he explained.

However, Pipes added, "Wardens and their staffs tend not to see this as their business."

He has raised the ire of Muslims across the world with his writings that warn of a militant Islamic threat. In Pipes' view, militant Islam is a threat equivalent to Nazism or Communism.

"Militant Islam, Middle-Eastern Islam, sees itself in a cosmic battle over the future course of the planet Earth, in much the way the fascists and communists did," Pipes said.

"This is the big story; this is what it is about in their eyes. Violence is one part, not the only part. Making converts in prison is another part," he added.

Chuck Colson, head of the Christian-based Prison Fellowship Ministries, believes, "It's no accident that Islam is growing behind bars." Colson was a Nixon White House aide who went to jail in the Watergate scandal of the 1970s.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed written in June, Colson wrote, "Al Qaeda training manuals specifically identify America's prisoners as candidates for conversion because they may be 'disenchanted with their countries' policies.'"

According to Colson, one out of every six inmates in America's prisons is an adherent to Islam, and the faith especially appeals to minorities.

"Two million people occupy America's prisons and jails today - two thirds of whom are non-white. Many feel oppressed by the white power structure and sentencing disparities, which too often fall most harshly on minorities," Colson wrote.

"Alienated, disenfranchised people are prime targets for radical Islamists who preach a religion of violence, of overcoming oppression by jihad," he added.

Colson believes ex-prisoners constitute a major threat, especially because they need not worry about immigration problems.

"As U.S. citizens, [ex-prisoners] will combine a desire for 'payback' with an ability to blend easily into American culture," he wrote.

Larry Johnson, a former CIA and State Department officer as well as a counter-terrorism expert, agrees the homegrown Islamic terrorist threat is real, even the brand developed outside prison walls.

Johnson called serial sniper suspect John Muhammad's "brand of Islam" a "motivating factor" in the alleged multi-state killing spree Muhammad is believed to have waged with teenaged accomplice John Malvo.

"Whatever it is that [Muhammad] believes he was practicing and following, I believe will be discovered to be the motivating factor for these attacks," Johnson told CNSNews.com.

Although he did not convert in prison, Muhammad was affiliated with the Nation of Islam (NOI), a black nationalist group led by Rev. Louis Farrakhan, which has a very aggressive prison outreach program.

According to Johnson, NOI "does not promote the values and mindset that encourage people to get along" and "it can take folks who have grievances and aggravate those grievances to a point that they may be willing to use violence."

Farrakhan's incendiary rhetoric on racial politics and American foreign policy adds to the tension, Johnson said. "Unfortunately, Farrakhan has been very much involved in making statements that will encourage people to use violence; have blacks use violence against whites," he said.

Johnson believes there's no question Muhammad was a follower of radical Islam.

"He is a Muslim for 17 years, but in that 17-year period, it's only within the last year after 9/11 that he feels compelled to change his name to Muhammad. I view that as a symbolic gesture of trying to assert more allegiance to the more extremist elements," Johnson said.

"That coupled with statements attributed to him expressing sympathy for attacks on 9/11, puts him into a category with a group of Muslim extremists," he added.

Muhammad and Malvo are suspects in a series of handgun and rifle shootings that culminated in the sniper attacks that terrorized the Washington, D.C., area in October. The two were arrested Oct. 24 and are jailed without bail.

Johnson, however, stops short of accusing Farrakhan's organization of creating a breeding ground for future terrorists.

"At the end of the day, average members of Nation of Islam recognize there is no upside to getting into that because it destroys them," he said.

Nation of Islam member David Muhammad, writing an Oct. 29 essay for the Pacific News Service, rejected any link between the sniper suspect's actions, his Muslim faith and his membership in NOI.

"If John Allen Muhammad is indeed the sniper ... his acts are as far away from Islam and the teachings of the Nation of Islam as Pluto is from sun," David Muhammad wrote.

"I was taught that Islam was the religion of peace," he added.

David Muhammad pointed out that John Muhammad had "severed his ties with the Nation [of Islam] in 1999." Noting that the sniper suspect killed several African-Americans and other nationalities, David Muhammad wrote, "The sniper's motives were obviously not about race."

Farrakhan, addressing the sniper case at an Oct. 26 press conference, said it's "ridiculous" that anyone would link the sniper's actions with NOI's teachings.

"None of that is our teaching at all," he said.

"Timothy McVeigh confessed that he was a Christian, but nobody blames the church for his misconduct," Farrakhan added.

Michael Young, editor of the online journal, "Islam For Today," does not believe Islam was a motivating factor for John Muhammad.

"I don't think that this sniper fellow is anymore representative of the Nation of Islam or mainstream Islam than say David Koresh and the Waco siege guys were representative of any form of Christianity," Young said.

Ibrahim Hooper, communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), also rejects any link between the sniper suspects and their faith.

"You can't hang the sniper on us, come on," Hooper told CNSNews.com.

"[Muhammad] was just a deranged criminal," he said.

There is speculation among members of law enforcement that John Muhammad may have been affiliated with other more militant Black Muslim groups such as the Five Percenters or Jamaat al-Fuqra.

Five Percenters, a breakaway militant sect of the Nation of Islam, was founded by Clarence "Pudding" 13X in 1964.

Pipes said the group is comprised of "Violent ex-cons, hoods, [and] un-socialized individuals" who believe black "men are called Gods and [black] women are called earths."

The name "Five Percenters" refers to the five percent of the Earth's population who are believed to be God-like. Pipes said the Five Percenters employ, "Creative patter and imaginative use of words" as their trademark. The Five Percenters' philosophy is popular with some present day hip-hop and rap musicians.

The speculation about John Muhammad's membership in the Five Percenters centers around a note left at the scene of one of the killings proclaiming to police, "I am God."

Law enforcement officials are also looking at the possibility that Muhammad may have ties to the alleged U.S. terror organization, Jamaat al-Fuqra. Pakistani Sheik Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani founded Jamaat al-Fuqra in the 1980s. Pipes said this group "very much needs to be seen in the context of jihad."

Pipes believes America is still failing to realistically assess its terrorist threat.

"The presumption needs to be that when a Muslim of any stripe, any self-professing Muslim, engages in what looks to be political violence, such as John Allen Muhammad or Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, the LAX [Los Angeles] airport shooter, one has to be working under the hypothesis that this is individual jihad," he said.

U.S. policy with regard to fighting Islamic terrorism is inadequate, Pipes added.

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Islamic expert Daniel Pipes believes "it's indisputable" that many prisoners who convert to Islam are being indoctrinated in anti-Americanism. "Prisoners are upset. Add the kind of grievances that these individuals have and you have an explosive mix and a very ripe...
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Thursday, 14 November 2002 12:00 AM
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