Terrorist Recruitment in American Correctional Institutions

TerroristRecruitment in American Correctional Institutions

TerroristRecruitment in American Correctional Institutions

Radicalizationis the procedure or the process that involves people adopting extremesocial, religious or political ideals. The radicalized people tend toundermine the situations at hand and do not value the contemporaryideas and expressions that portray freedom of choice. Mostlyradicalization makes the radicalized to oppose any progressivechanges in a community or society. Radicalization is today mostlyassociated with violent extremism while other cases radicalizationcan lead to peace when conducted carefully. Also, it can lead to warand misunderstanding especially when reinforcing some points. Theradicals are always resilient and lethal on what they have been madeto believe. The radicals are always capable of blending in with everyother person they participate on day to day activities in buildingthe nation. Radicalized people in most cases lack the space tosatisfy material and spiritual needs

Radicalizationhas greatly increased the effect of terrorism in the world today. Theradicalization of the youth is the most rampant type ofradicalization in the word. Most of the radicalization happens fromdifferent places. Hamm explains how radicalization has been portrayedin the jails in the United States. Jail is one of the least expectedareas for radicalization to be experienced. John Hamm goes on toexplain the kind of conversion of people to be radicals and terroristwithin the jails.

Recruitmentsin extremism in the prison go back to the late ages of the 1970s whenRyan Buttler began the Christian outreach campaigns. Buttler wasinterested in converting prisoners into a racist Christian Identitysect. Butlers outreach was successful. Hamm (2006) explains thatButtler success would be seen from one his recruits Gary Lee. GaryLee created an order (a silent brotherhood) a domestic terroristgroup that was so much dangerous in the United States. There is quitemore evidence as perceived by Hamm.

Sincethe success of Buttler, the evidence of radicalization has improvedover the years. Peter Langan, the founder of a white supremacy gang,converted the Christian identity in Ranford prison in Florida in1978. This was out of anger of being gang raped by black convicts(Hamm 2013). Another example is John King, who converted to Odinismat Beto I Unit of the Texas prison system in 1995 and Jose Padillawho had been convicted on the basis that he planned an attack on theUnited States with a radioactive bomb. Jose decided to join Islam dueto radicalization at South Florida county jail.

Someof the most recent and most dangerous conversions were the cases of,for example, Yousef Fikri, who was radicalized by a radical Imam ofthe Qaeda-affiliated Moroccan Combat Group. After the release ofFikri, he masterminded the suicide bombings of 2003 in Casablanca.Jamal Ahmidan while serving time due to immigration fraud in Spanishdetention was radicalized and embraced the Jihadist principles. Jamalwas the mastermind behind the Madrid train bombing in 2004. The majorexample that most of the people in the world know is the case of AbuMusab al-Zarqawi of al-Qaeda in Iraq. It is important to note thatZarqawi was not radicalized into extremism in the prison. Zarqawi onthe first place was not a Muslim.

Zarqawiwas influenced and gain attachment to Islam strongly in Jordan`shigh-security Suwaqah prison. Zarqawi survived the tough prison andcould take most of his time memorizing the Koran. He developed thebody of a fighter. He then ventured into the recruitment ofprisoners, mainly the criminals of drug trafficking, Islamicists, andordinary criminals in the prison. The radicalized prisoners laterproved their importance in realizing his terrorist campaign in Iraq.Zarqawi didn’t like being released and would petition the warden tolet him be in the prisons. He had all the chance of recruiting moreprisoners into extremism.

Hamm(2006) explains that the in the world of today most of the kingpin ofterrorists are serving a lifetime in the jails under high security.Some of the kingpins are busy dealing and continuing terrorism byradicalizing the prisoners within the cells and jails. Some of thesekingpins have joined writing to continue their extremism andradicalization of even those people who stay outside the prisons. Thebooks are also meant to keep their subjects who are released from thejails in line. The kingpins will continue causing probes to the worldas long as their subjects or even they are within the prisons. Forexample, Abu Mohammed who is the intellectual mentor of Zarqawi islocked up in the Jordanian prison. To the surprise of many it isunderstood that Abu operates a website that thrive in Islamicmilitancy.

Theterrorists’ threats emanating from American prisons as per anyreports are understood on how the recruitment is being done andfacilitated. The recruitments methods used include mail and telephonecalls, a discussion in small groups in the prison yards, at the workout points, chow halls and in chapels. A great percentage ofradicalization happens at these points. Some join terrorism whilesome are converted to Islam and finally into radical activism. Tosome extent, most of the terrorism networks are formed in the prisonsat such points.

Hamm(2006) describes the common patterns of converting people in prisonto violent radical causes. Mark Hamm explains six main patterns thatthe prisoners can be converted and have been converted in the past.The conversions patterns discussed by Hamm Includes, the crisisconversion, protection-seeker conversion, searching conversion,manipulating conversion and finally the free world recruitedconversions.

Crisisconversion is not a common pattern of conversion in the prison thoughsome situations it is seen. The common crisis conversion is themedical situation and the fear factor. These forms of conversionsare to answer the question as to why the inmates may decide toconvert to different religion or become radicalized. Hamm explainsthat medical condition May leads to conversion. He gives an exampleof David, who converted to Native American religion because he gottime to spend with Native Americans and read most of their books. Ina case of fear as a reason to be converted, Mark gives an example ofJoe, who broke down in 1997 killing his wife, sister and the husband.He was jailed, and fear of the fact that he did kill people henceprayed to God. He was converted to Yoga religion because of the fear.

Theother common pattern that is also discussed by Mark is the pattern ofseeking to protection. Most people come into the prisons of fear ofbeing mistreated and suffer at the hands of the inmates. For example,mostly when a black person comes in the jail Hamm says they arealways noted of the kind of people to be careful around. He gives anexample of Marcus, who converted to Islam for the purpose of gettingprotection.

Theother pattern that most of the prisoners always end up beingconverted is the pattern of being a seeker. Most people who areconvicted are people who don’t understand themselves and alwayswant to follow a life and, therefore, seek religion or something tofollow. The example provided by Hamm is the case of Mario, who movesfrom religion to religion in the search for the best religion forhim. Mario was a Catholic he converts to kingisim, he becomes anIslam and finally become and embraces Black Hebrew Israelism.

Theother common pattern is the manipulating conversion pattern. MarkHamm says in his report that this pattern is not a common form ofconversion in fact, there was no vivid example of a person who wasconverted as a result of being manipulated. Mark Hamm suggest thatthis as one of the factors that could lead to being converted.

Finally,the last pattern discussed by Mark Hamm is the free-world recruitedconverts. Hamm explains that as much as that the prisoners had beenconverted to different religion and radicalized cases, it was throughan own personal will. It is seen that their friends influenced mostof the converts. Friends are, therefore, can be the reason as to whya person converts. The friend could be of a specific religion, yetthe prisoner lacks a religion, it would be easy to be converted.

Hamm(2006) ends his report by commenting that other ways of conversioncan be the influence of the chaplains. The chaplains might be peoplehave already been converted and therefore, it takes it easy for themto convert the inmates by influencing their views.


Hamm,M. S. (2013). Thespectacular few: Prisoner radicalization and the evolving terroristthreat.U.S.A: NYU Press.