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What is going on in Britain’s prisons?

This is a guest post by Prison Officer Hawkeye

In the last week alone, three news stories have painted a troubling picture of government incompetence in tackling extreme Islamism within the famously secretive UK prison system.

On 7th February it was reported that Durwayne Martin, a convicted rapist, was badly burned after being doused in boiling oil by Muslim prisoners in Whitemoor prison by Jamaile Morally, a convicted killer and rapist, after he refused to convert to Islam.

A prison source said: “There has been a real problem of extremist Muslims trying to convert other inmates to Islam.”

Similar attacks carried out with boiling oil and water have previously been carried out in violent feuds between white and Muslim gangs (including some led by convicted terrorists) in HMP Frankland. (This has been documented by the Quilliam Foundation here.)

Also on 7 February, on the BBC’s Generation Jihad documentary, two Halifax men recently released after serving time for terrorist offences, boasted openly that their views had not been changed while in prison.

One of them, Bilal Mohammed even gave the BBC a neat summation of the jihadist worldview that could easily have come from Omar Bakri or Abu Hamza:

“We’re living a time of war because the western world is not letting anyone live in peace. It is the West that is at war with everyone. It is the West that started this war. We don’t have loyalties to where we have been born and bred; we have loyalties to Islam and the Muslims – that’s where our priorities and our loyalties lie.”

As if this wasn’t bad enough, a few days later after Mohammed Atif Siddique was released in Scotland following the quashing of one of his terrorist convictions, it was revealed that during his four year imprisonment no attempt was made to challenge his views or guide him towards more moderate understandings of Islam.

This revelation even stunned two of Scotland’s most Islamist-friendly public figures. His lawyer, Aamer Anwar, no stranger to controversy himself, called this ‘astonishing’, saying:

‘He wanted to speak to somebody … to help him find the right answers. Instead he spent most of his (jail] time in solitary confinement.’

Osama Saeed, the equally controversial head of the Scottish Islamic Foundation who has featured regularly on Harry’s Place, also chipped in to say:

‘We are extremely concerned by reports that there was little attempt while in prison to discuss with him the extreme ideas that he had been influenced by on the internet. This sadly is a wasted opportunity and it is important now that he is looked out for by the wider community.’

For over 50 years prisons around the world have been crucibles of jihadist radicalisation and recruitment. It is shocking that British prison service does not seem have realised this or to have created a mechanism for either stopping such recruitment or for de-radicalising convicted extremists.

If even people like Osama Saeed are getting worried about radicalism in prison, it is surely now only a matter of time before we see former prison inmates turning to terror.