U.S. Lax on Screening Muslim Chaplains

Federal prison officials are failing to adequately screen Muslim chaplains and others who provide Islamic religious services to inmates to determine whether they hold extremist views, Justice Department investigators say.

About 9,000 of the estimated 150,000 federal prison inmates identify themselves as Muslim. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the FBI has been concerned that al-Qaida and other terror groups might use prisons to radicalize inmates and recruit operatives in the United States.

The 10 full-time Muslim chaplains at federal prisons told Justice Department investigators they had not witnessed any such attempts. Besides these chaplains, there are dozens of Islamic contractors and volunteers who provide religious services to inmates.

The Muslim chaplains, according to the review, “stated that some inmates are radicalized in prison by other inmates.”

Richard Reid, convicted of attempting to blow up an airliner with a shoe bomb, converted to Islam while in a British prison. Jose Padilla, being held as an enemy combatant on allegations he was plotting to detonate a radioactive “dirty bomb” in the United States, is believed to have turned to radical Islam while jailed in Broward County, Fla., the report says.

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