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The Enemy Within By: Frank J Gaffney Jr.
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, August 19, 2005

One year ago, prisoners at the New Folsom State Prison – a maximum-security facility outside Sacramento, California – reportedly began plotting terrorist attacks against three National Guard facilities, the Israeli consulate and several synagogues in the Los Angeles area. The attacks are believed to have been planned for the fourth anniversary of September 11th or the Jewish holidays.

According to ABC News, a law enforcement report has determined that the plotters intended “to kill everyone at the target[s],” potentially resulting in dozens of casualties inflicted on innocents as part of the jihad (holy war) the prisoners were determined to wage against the United States.

The frightening thing is that the would-be assailants were not terrorist adherents to the political ideology of Islamofascism when they went to jail.  They became Islamists while in prison – thanks to the sort of recruitment opportunities afforded clerics usually selected by Saudi-backed Muslim-American organizations.  Today, they are reportedly members of a prison gang called Jamat Ul-Islam Is Saheeh.


The dangers associated with such officially sanctioned behavior may be particularly evident in the wake of the revelation of the New Folsom bombing plot. Yet, they are but the predictable by-product of exposing violent sociopaths to the indoctrination of Islaomist ideologues and recruiters.  Indeed, this result has been repeatedly and publicly predicted.


Among others, the Center for Security Policy has for years been warning about the infiltration of U.S. prisons by agents of Saudi Wahhabism.  For example, on May 10, 2003, the Center suggested that – if the Saudis want to demonstrate they are on our side in the war against Islamofascist-inflicted terror, they should “stop their organized efforts to recruit convicted felons in the U.S. prison system as cannon-fodder for the Wahhabist jihad.”


In October 2003, Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) held a hearing in his Senate Terrorism Subcommittee to address “Terrorist Recruitment and Infiltration in the United States: Prisons and Military as an Operational Base.”  The FBI’s Assistant Director for the Counterterrorism Division, John Pistole, testified:  “Terrorists [like those associated with al Qaeda] seek to exploit our freedom to exercise religion to their advantage by using radical forms of Islam to recruit operatives. Unfortunately, U.S. correctional institutions are a viable venue for such radicalization and recruitment.”


Another witness at that hearing, J. Michael Waller, the Annenberg Professor of International Communications at the Institute of World Politics (who also serves as a Vice President of the Center for Security Policy), identified for the Senate a number of the individuals and organizations who have been involved in Muslim prison proselytizing. (Interestingly, some of them and/or their leaders were prominent signatories of the recent highly publicized fatwa that purportedly denounced terror.)  As Dr. Waller noted, they have also been publicly linked to Islamist causes and sympathies. 


For example, Dr. Waller testified that, “The Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences (GSISS) trains Muslim chaplains.  Operation Green Quest investigators raided GSISS offices in March 2002, along with 23 other organizations. According to search warrants, federal agents suspected GSISS and the others of ‘potential money laundering and tax evasion activities and their ties to terrorist groups such as al Qaeda as well as individual terrorists . . . [including] Osama bin Laden.’”  He reminded the subcommittee that “Agents also raided the homes of GSISS Dean of Students Iqbal Unus, and GSISS President Taha Al-Alwani.  Press reports identify Al-Awani as Unindicted Co-Conspirator Number 5 in the Palestinian Islamic Jihad case of Sami Al-Arian in Florida.”


Dr. Waller told Senators: “The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) refers Muslim clerics to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.”  The Islamic Society of North America is an influential front for the promotion of the Wahhabi political, ideological and theological infrastructure in the United States and Canada. Established by the Saudi-sponsored Muslim Students Association (which has hundreds of chapters on U.S. college campuses), ISNA seeks to marginalize leaders of the Muslim faith who do not support its ideological goals. Through sponsorship of propaganda, doctrinal material and mosques, ISNA is pursuing the Islamofascists’ strategic objective of dominating Islam in North America.


The prison chaplain’s Wahhabi connections have also been acknowledged by none other than Adel Al-Jubeir, the foreign policy spokesman for Saudi King Abdullah. He told the Wall Street Journal in February 2003, “The Saudi government pays for prison chaplains, along with many other American Muslims, to travel to Saudi Arabia for worship and study during the hajj, the traditional winter pilgrimage to Mecca that all Muslims are supposed to make at least once in their lives.  The trips typically cost $3,000 a person and last several weeks.”


Despite all the warnings, the alleged New Folsom State plot was not foiled by intensive surveillance of prison incitement and recruitment by Wahhabi clerics – let alone by keeping such Islamofascists out of the U.S. penal system.  Rather, according to the Associated Press, it came on 5 July when Levar Washington, a convicted thief and street gang member, was arrested after his release from the New Folsom Prison, along with an accomplice suspected of perpetrating a string of gas station robberies. 


Authorities have told the AP that two other still-incarcerated inmates, Peter Martinez (who is serving a 40-year sentence for second-degree murder) and his cellmate, Kevin James, are under investigation as the plot’s organizers.  As many as 13 prisoners may have been involved.


ABC reported Tuesday that a fellow prisoner who feared retaliation from other cell members still at large had told the network:  “[Washington] regarded Osama bin Laden very highly.”  He said Washington tried to recruit him and others in Los Angeles to join the terror group. The anonymous source added, “[Washington] really believed that the Muslim world is majorly oppressed right now, and their only way out is to fight jihad by harming innocent people.” 


The AP reports that law enforcement officials are investigating whether the plotters may also have had assistance from a Pakistani national named Hammad Riaz Samana, who is said to have communicated with Jamat Ul-Islam gang members at New Folsom State.  In the wake of last month’s bombings in London, the now-obvious role of Pakistan as a Wahhabi-funded training ground for Islamist terror operations makes such alleged communications especially worrisome.


The cumulative effects of Islamist recruitment in the U.S. penal system are as stunning as they are ominous.  Currently, there are said to be roughly 350,000 inmates in federal, state and local prisons who identify themselves Muslims.  Some 30,000-40,000 more are being added to that population each year. 


Official estimates suggest that roughly 80% of prisoners who “find faith” while in prison convert to Islam and that the percentage of the prison population that is “Muslim” today is somewhere between 15-20%.  In fact, prison conversion alone is a major contributor to the rapid growth of Islam in the United States.


Given the radical beliefs of the Muslim clerics ministering in the prison system who typically provide most prisoners with their first contact with Islam, it is not surprising that few of the inmates are adherents to the Suffi or other moderate practices of the faith.  Indeed, it appears that in many prison systems – such as the New Folsom State Prison – Saudi-trained extremist imams have been granted an exclusive franchise for Muslim religious instruction, at the expense of more moderate voices.  As a result, most converts embrace what amounts to an Islamofascist ideology.

Three such converts have gained notoriety since their release from prison:


·      Richard Reid, the convicted “Shoe Bomber,” was converted to Islam in a British prison by a radical imam, Abdul Ghani Qureshi, at the suggestion of his father, a Jamaican-born career criminal and convert.


·      Jose Padilla (a.k.a. Abdullah al-Muhajir), the alleged “Dirty Bomber,” was exposed to Islam during stints in American prisons.


·      Aqil Collins converted to Islam while serving time in California’s boot-camp system.  He went to an Afghan training camp with one of the men accused of killing Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl.


We have been on notice for some time.  As Edward Caden, a retired prison administrator in California, put it to ABC News: “Prisons are a prime, prime target for terrorist recruiting. It is a ripe population.”  Unfortunately, for too long prison wardens and other law enforcement officials have turned a blind eye to the Islamofascist recruiters – whether in the name of political correctness, religious tolerance or simply a pragmatic – if reckless – belief that prisoners subjected to Wahhabi discipline will be better behaved, at least while incarcerated.  The alleged plot uncovered in New Folsom State is unlikely to be the last of the dangers to arise from allowing this Islamist cancer to spread unchecked.


The only population whose indoctrination with Islamofascist ideology could be arguably be more worrisome than that of prison-hardened violent offenders is the U.S. military.  And, incredible as it may seem, at least some of the Muslim chaplains ministering to the latter have been selected, trained and certified for over a decade by the same or like-minded Saudi-backed Islamist organizations as have been doing such damage converting felons. 


The alleged New Folsom State plot had better rouse us out of our stupor.  Like other Western democracies, this country is at war with Islamofascists at home, as well as abroad.  Rooting them out of mosques, campus organizations and charities – as well as our prison and military chaplain corps – must be made part of the long-overdue war footing on which the Nation must now be put.

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. is the founder, president, and CEO of The Center for Security Policy. During the Reagan administration, Gaffney was the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Forces and Arms Control Policy, and a Professional Staff Member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, chaired by Senator John Tower (R-Texas). He is a columnist for The Washington Times, Jewish World Review, and Townhall.com and has also contributed to The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New Republic, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Los Angeles Times, and Newsday.

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