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A recent report by Britain’s Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, Sadiq Khan, details the growing population of Muslims in British jails, many of whom are declared Islamic extremists. Top-security prison Whitemoor, home to many extremists serving life sentences for plotting acts of terror in the United Kingdom, is considered a recruitment center for al-Qaeda, according to prison inspectors.
Roughly 42 percent of prisoners at Whitemoor are Muslims, a stark contrast to the overall U.K. population in which only 5 percent practice Islam. Prison staff claims that violent jihadists are recruiting vulnerable inmates, pressuring them to adopt Islam before joining terrorist groups. “Whitemoor is now effectively run by Muslims, many of whom are Jihadis,” said one prison officers’ union source.
The Mirror reports that other top-security prisons in the United Kingdom hold a high number of Muslims. The population of Belmarsh prison in south-east London comprises 33 percent Muslims, followed by Full Sutton in York with 20 percent of inmates practicing Islam. Khan, criticizing the government’s approach to the problem, told the Mirror that “while the Justice Secretary is busy with gimmicks he has no idea if and to what extent radicalization is taking place in our prisons. The government has failed to take action on this. In jails like Whitemoor the Chief Inspector is on record warning of the risks of radicalization.” He added that “the government needs to wake up to this problem before it’s too late.”
According to HLS News Wire figures released by the Ministry of Justice count 11,729 Muslims in British jails, roughly one in seven of all inmates. Whitmoor, which has a total population of approximately 500 inmates, has 210 Muslims. Terrorists Zia al Haq of Wembley, north London, sentenced to eighteen years in 2007, is an inmate at Whitemoor. Nezar Hindawi, serving forty-five years for planting a bomb on a 1986 London to Tel Aviv flight, is also an inmate at Whitemoor.
Sources with the prison officers’ union say many Muslim inmates have left Whitemoor as “fully signed-up members of al-Qaeda.” In a 2012 probe commissioned by the Justice Ministry, prisoners and staff told researchers that Whitemoor had become a “Taliban recruiting ground.” According to a 2012 report by the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, one inmate on remand was convinced by an al-Qaeda prisoner to become a suicide bomber within seventy-two hours of arriving at Belmarsh prison. The inmate reportedly left Belmarsh and went to Yemen to join an al-Qaeda training camp, but was instead sent to a religious school by a Yemeni imam.