European Prisons Fueling Spread of Islamic Radicalism

European Prisons Fueling Spread of Islamic Radicalism, by Noemie Bisserbe. European jihadists are using jail time to radicalize at-risk Muslim youth and forge connections with other terrorists, turning Europe’s prison systems into Jihad factories.

To keep militants off the streets, authorities are throwing many of them in jail, but that is injecting battle-hardened radicals into overcrowded prisons. Researchers estimate that 50% to 60% of the roughly 67,000 inmates in the French prison system are Muslims, who represent just 7.5% of the general population. …

Within that system, Islamist radicals act as an “aristocracy,” the audit said, dictating prison etiquette to other inmates by forbidding them to take showers naked or listen to music. Televised matches of women’s tennis are also banned by inmates in some cells, the audit said.

A 52-year-old inmate who has been in and out of prison for a decade said radicals who once kept to themselves have begun reaching out to thieves and drug dealers to expand their following. “They’re now willing to promote their cause by whatever means possible,” he said. …

French jails are experimenting with isolating the radical Islamists from the other prisoners:

In an attempt to disrupt the aura around radical inmates, governments across the continent have begun to experiment with special measures, such as segregating radicals from other prisoners by housing them on special floors or wards. …

Former Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, who resigned in January to protest the government’s plans to strip terrorists of their French citizenship, expressed “grave reservations” over the idea of grouping radicals together.

“This is madness,” said a former counterterrorism official. “We are putting together terrorists who didn’t know each other and belonged to different groups, and helping them create tight, impenetrable networks,” the official said. …

Prisons have become recruiting grounds for Muslim activists:

In 2004, the prison received a new inmate: 23-year-old Amedy Coulibaly. Convicted of armed robbery, Mr. Coulibaly spent 22 hours a day locked up in his cell.

“Prison changed me,” Coulibaly would later tell French journalist Warda Mohamed after his release in 2008. … “I learnt about Islam in prison. Before that I wasn’t interested, now I pray,” Coulibaly told Ms. Mohamed, she said. “Just for that, I’m glad I went to prison.” …

In one facility, the audit said, a dozen prisoners jailed on suspicion of terrorism had managed to attract a following of 20 other inmates with no history of radicalization. During a cell search, authorities found an Islamic State headband along with a map of the Paris region railways network, according to the audit.

Some women visiting the prison, the audit said, were under pressure to change out of their jeans and T-shirts into hijabs—a scarf that covers the head and torso—before meeting inmates. Women who refused were insulted by prisoners and ordered to cover up.

Muslim jailhouse converts on the rise in Australia, by Dan Box.

Muslims are over-represented in Australian prisons, with increasing numbers of inmates under­going jailhouse conversions to gain the protection of Islamic groups behind bars.

In Victoria and NSW, 8 per cent and 9 per cent of the respective prison populations identify as Muslim, compared with 2.2 per cent and 3 per cent of the general populations. …

Prison employees, who spoke confidentially to The Weekend Australian, say they are seeing ­increasing numbers of white and Aboriginal prisoners converting to Islam in jail.

Muslim groups have become increasingly influential in NSW prisons and — like other prison gangs — are often involved in the drug trade, extortion and gambling, these sources said.

“I think the conversion (to Islam) is not really a religious conversion. It’s to cover what you’re doing and to get a network behind you,” one prison worker said. “It’s to be part of something. You think that you’re important.”