No, this time, it’s the Muslim “counter-extremism” Quilliam Foundation confirming what others have been warning about for years. What remains to be seen is whether their report — unsullied by any distasteful “otherness” on the part of its authors — will create any apparent sense of urgency to deal with this ongoing disaster waiting to happen in British prisons.
“Islamists ‘promote jihad in jail’,” from BBC News, November 15 (thanks to all who sent this in):
Radical Muslims are spreading extremist propaganda and promoting jihad from inside UK jails, a report has claimed.
Counter-extremism think tank the Quilliam Foundation said radicals were also being allowed to lead prayers.
And its report said extremist cleric Abu Qatada had issued fatwas from Long Lartin prison in Worcestershire where he is awaiting deportation.
The Ministry of Justice said it had a dedicated unit to tackle the risk of extremism and radicalisation in prison.
But are they tackling it? And how does tackling “the risk” differ from tackling the actual, ongoing situation of “radicalization” in prisons? Seems like it’s a bit late for the former. It’s striking to note how often such statements are weaselly worded to blur the distinction between potential and genuine action, with phrases like “taking steps to ensure,” or “working closely with our partners,” or perhaps “actively partnering with…”
The Quilliam Foundation said the study, to be published on Monday, was based largely on accounts sneaked out of prisons by high-profile extremists.
The report said: “Prominent pro al-Qaeda ideologues such as Abu Qatada have been able to smuggle messages out of prison to their supporters.
“Other convicted extremists have issued pro-jihadist statements from prison while others have appeared on Islamic TV stations from within prison.
“In 2008 and 2009, two of the most prominent Arab jihadists imprisoned in the UK released pro-jihadist propaganda and fatwas from within Long Lartin prison.
“Adel Abdel Bary, a leader of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, produced written pro-jihadist tracts from within prison aiming to refute criticism of al-Qaeda, while Abu Qatada issued fatwas from within prison which legitimised jihadist attacks worldwide.”
Mid-Worcestershire MP Peter Luff, whose constituency includes Long Lartin, plans to raise the report’s findings with Home Secretary Alan Johnson and Justice Secretary Jack Straw.
Mr Luff said: “In my view the courts have, in the past, failed to protect us by allowing the release of dangerous individuals from Long Lartin and other prisons, and by delaying the deportation of many others.
“While these deeply dangerous men remain in British custody, we must be absolutely confident that they can do no harm – and these revelations suggest we cannot be confident of that.
“The government must move quickly to address the exceptionally serious issues this report raises.”