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TheStreet Open House

Plot Renews Fears Of Radical Islam In Prison

Just as young people can be radicalized by "cut-and-paste" readings of the Quran on the Internet, new inmates may get a distorted view of Islam from gang leaders or other influential inmates, according to "Out of the Shadows: Getting Ahead of Prison Radicalization," a 2006 report by the George Washington University Homeland Security Policy Institute and the University of Virginia Critical Incident Analysis Group.

Several imams used the term "Jailhouse Islam" to describe a form of Islam in prison that incorporates gang loyalty and violence, the report said.

Many states are doing a better job of screening the reading material that comes into prisons, Rogers said. But other problems arise when there are no qualified chaplains or volunteers.

"Sometimes inmates rely on other inmates, and it's sort of the prison way," Rogers said. "They turn to someone they trust, their 'celly' or someone in their cellblock, and put them on a pedestal as someone who has more knowledge about the religion. He could be spreading knowledge, or could be spreading ignorance."

Inmates who were radicalized in prison include:

¿ Jose Padilla, a former Chicago gang member, who converted to Islam behind bars and was recruited at a mosque to become a mujahedeen fighter, authorities said. Prosecutors accused him of plotting to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb," but he was convicted of unrelated terror support charges.

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