Are U.S. and European prisons becoming prime recruiting grounds for militant Islam and even terrorism? In a report on Richard Reid, the suspected “shoe bomber” terrorist, in Time magazine (Feb. 25), it is noted that like many others, Reid was converted to militant Islam while in prison.
The magazine reports that since the early 1980s, “Bangladeshi and Pakistani imams, often associated with evangelist Islamic groups, have targeted young black inmates of British prisons.” The literature brought by imams into the jails ranged from the Koran to pamphlets highlighting the importance of jihad. The Minnesota Christian Chronicle (Jan. 24) cites a report in the British Guardian finding that moderate Islamic clergy tend to be pushed aside by radical Muslims in British prisons.
One cleric told the newspaper that some of the imams go into prisons would never be welcome in mosques outside of prisons because of their extreme views. Charles Colson of the evangelical Prison Fellowship Ministries says in the same article that U.S. prisons, particularly among African-American inmates, there is a “troubling shift in the kind of Islam preached in our prisons.” Colson adds that radical clerics are crowding out the efforts of more moderate, mainline Muslims.
Colson cites a New York Times article reporting that the sermons of U.S. prison imams are often inflammatory against the U.S. The Islamic Supreme Council, a small moderate Sufi-based organization, complains that their literature has been removed from American prison libraries by radical Imams who claim it is “un-Islamic.”
(Minnesota Christian Chronicle, 7317 Cahill Rd., Suite 201, Minneapolis, MN 55439)