I don’t usually make predictions, but here’s one I’ll venture: If, God forbid, an attack by home-grown Islamist radicals occurs on American soil, many, if not most, of the perpetrators will have converted to Islam while in prison.
I am hardly going out on a limb here. I said this first in 2001. The spread of an especially virulent form of Islam within American prisons is obvious to those of us who have spent time in these prisons. It’s the rest of American society that is in denial. Now, thanks to a new study, ignorance is no longer an option.
The study, titled “Out of the Shadows,” concluded that “the U.S. . . . is at risk of facing the sort of homegrown terrorism currently plaguing other countries.” The source of that risk, according to researchers from George Washington University and the University of Virginia, is “[America’s] large prison population.”
“Radicalized prisoners” within this population “are a potential pool of recruits by terrorist groups,” the study says. The sources of radicalization are incarcerated Islamic extremists and outside organizations that support them. The report notes that the absence of “monitoring by authoritative Islamic chaplains” permits “materials that advocate violence [to infiltrate] the prison system undetected.”
Some of this material is provided by known al-Qaeda affiliates. It “[urges Muslim prisoners] to wage war against non-Muslims who have not submitted to Islamic rule.” As a former employee of a radical Islamist group who is now a Christian told a Senate committee, “I know of only a few instances in which prisons rejected the literature we attempted to distribute - and it was never because of the literature’s radicalism.”
Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) was correct when she called the situation “an emerging threat to our national security.” The obvious question: What do we do about it?
The study recommends the creation of a federal commission to “investigate this issue in depth.” It says that an “objective risk assessment” is “urgently needed” so that “officials [can] address this issue now, rather than [managing] a crisis later.”
I agree wholeheartedly, but let’s get on with this. We already know what the study has concluded. I’ve been telling “BreakPoint” listeners and readers and Prison Fellowship supporters about this for years. Now we have more than anecdotal evidence. We have a study from two prestigious universities on our side.
Still, I can’t help but note an irony here: The largely unimpeded spread of radical Islam through our prisons coincides with increased opposition to the one really successful antidote - that is, the presence of Christianity.