Monday, September 29, 2008

Bad Books Behind Bars

In the current issue of The Weekly Standard, Stephen Schwartz takes a look at the (belated) inventory of Islamic books and videos in the Muslim chapels at the 105 prisons and correctional institutions in the federal system. As he reports:

The inventory, which runs to 399 pages, shows a marked predominance of Wahhabi and other fundamentalist Sunni literature among the Muslim holdings of federal prison chapels. The collections also contain plentiful materials from the Nation of Islam, the extreme black nationalist movement headed by Louis Farrakhan, but Shia and Sufi works are generally absent, as are texts on broader aspects of Islamic history and culture.

This finding is significant in light of two other facts: Muslim extremists' openly stated intent to spread their ideology in prisons, and the Bureau of Prisons' own past reliance on Muslim chaplains trained in Wahhabi Islam. While no major acts of terror have been traced to recruitment in U.S. prisons, the tools necessary for extremist indoctrination remain, unaccountably, in place.

Among the authors available to inmates in federal prisons, contemporary popularizers of Islamism, including jihadist radicals, are well represented. More encouraging is the discovery that the inventory includes only half a dozen copies of the infamous Wahhabi edition of the Koran, printed in English in Saudi Arabia with interlineated extremist commentaries.

That may be the only bit of good news. As Mr. Schwartz discovered, there are plenty of volumes available from Muslim radicals, many with Wahhabi roots. Equally disturbing, the Bureau of Prisons was a reluctant participant in the process. The inventory was conducted at the recommendation of the Department of Justice Inspector General, responding to requests from terrorism experts and members of Congress.

Schwartz obtained his copy of the report under a Freedom of Information Act request. We're betting he's the only journalist who's requested a copy so far. About what you'd expect from the same media that limits rebroadcast of those "disturbing" images of the 9-11 attacks.


davod said...

Didn't Padea get indoctrinated in prison?

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

You finger an interesting and urgent issue. You do need to make Sufi works available in prisons -- along with the Guides (aka Friends, Teachers) capable of passing on its essence.

Not only does Sufism preach genuine encounter with one's fellow man but group prayers are also gymnastic, yogic exercises that reduce stress levels inside the body, much like yoga does.

This is in turn means lower stress levels in prison staff who have less anger management to perform on themselves and their charges.
Not to follow up on your concern amounts to deliberately operating the prison system as a breeding ground for social and paramilitary dissidents.