Saturday, January 31, 2015

Washington Post Acknowledges Prison Radicalization Problem

Eleven years after the Inspector General for the Department of Justice issued his report on the potential threat of Islamic radicalization in the prison system the Washington Post has agreed with the assessment.
Using the recent terrorist attacks in Paris as a focal point, the WP found systemic problems in the French penal system whereby common criminals,  such as Amedy Coulibaly a petty thief incarcerated in the Fleury-Merogis prison for a robbery in 2005, became terrorists.  There they meet convicted  terrorists such as Djamel Beghal, an Islamist with ties to al-Qaeda convicted of plotting to bomb the US embassy in 2001.  Such convicts exercise a powerful influence on the general population in the prison.  Their influence helped forge his (Coulibaly) belief in the call to jihad.
Following his release, Coulibaly killed a policewomen and four Jewish hostages in a Kosher deli as a mujahid  in support of ISIS.

Amedy Coulibaly
The Post stated the following regarding the
threat of radicalization:
"France’s prisons have a reputation as factories for radical Islamists, taking in ordinary criminals and turning them out as far more dangerous people."

Unfortunately it's recommended solution is to hire more religious workers without a structured process of certifying the Islamic clergy, something the IG's report believed was crucial in thwarting the radicalization process.

Without those safeguards unvetted prison Imams would only exacerbate the problem.

Monday, January 12, 2015

NY Times Agrees with Author on Terrorism's Prison Connection

In two back to back reports the New York Times has outlined the progression from convict to jihadist in the case of the most recent terrorist attacks in France.
In the first article by Andrew Higgins, the reporter outlined the downward spiral of the life Amedy Coulibaly, the self admitted follower of ISIS who was killed by French Tactical Units after he killed a policewomen, and four Jewish customers in Paris’s Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket.

Coulibaly was known to authorities as a petty criminal who became a radicalized follower of Smaïn Ait Ali Belkacem, an incarcerated terrorist serving a life sentence for a 1995 attack on a rail station at the Musée d’Orsay.
The second article by Jim Yardley picked up on the life of Chérif Kouachi, a known associate of Amedy Coulibaly, who along with his brother Said attacked the offices of Charlie Hedbo and killed twelve individuals while purporting to be acting as members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula(AQAP).
According to the reporter prison was the environment that :

"There, their radicalism hardened as some members of the group came together with other prominent jihadists who were connected to more extensive and dangerous militant networks."

A new concept?  Not really.   Counterterrorism experts knew of this phenomena years ago.
It had been outlined in intelligence reports by several agencies including, the CIA, the FBI, and France's domestic intelligence agencyRenseignements Généraux (RG).
I first wrote about this phenomena five years ago in an article entitled, "The Roots of Radical Islam in Prison"
The dynamics of specific cases  were further outlined in my book, "The Fertile Soil of Jihad"

This is an issue that will not soon go away.  Thankfully the main stream media is recognizing the problem of placing convicted terrorists in the same prisons a common criminals.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Another Ex-Con, Another Terrorist Attack - The Danger of Closing Gitmo

Said Kouachi, Cherif Kouachi, and Amedy
Coulibaly, the radicalized Islamic terrorists who brutally murdered police, journalists, and civilians in the streets of Paris share a common theme with other Muslim terrorists such as Mohammed Merah (Toulouse, France Massacre 2012)  Alton Nolen (the Oklahoma beheading), Michael Zehaf Bibeau (Attack on Canadian Parliament) and Carlos Bledsoe (Arkansas Army Recruiting Station).
All spent time behind bars.
This list would be larger if we included those arrested for plotting terrorist attacks that were thwarted by Counter Terrorism officials.
Now we are discovering that at least two of the Paris attackers received training in Yemen from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). More disturbing is that while there they met
with noted al-Qaida bomb maker Said Shihri. Shihri spent almost six years in prison for terrorism before his release in 2007. His was incarcerated at Camp Delta Detention Center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. U.S. officials released him to a Saudi Arabian Rehabilitation Program designed to help captured terrorists re-acclimate themselves into society.
The program clearly did not work.
The Paris tragedy is another clear example that releasing terrorists from prison may not be such a good idea. France’s problem is that they have no alternative. There is no death penalty and no sentence of life without parole. Everyone eventually gets out of prison.
The fact that ex-cons often get released from prison neither rehabilitated nor transformed is nothing new. Recidivism rates for common criminals continue to be an issue for sociologists and criminologists to explore. However the phenomena of individuals coming out of prison radicalized and then traveling overseas to continue their journey to jihad is relatively new, yet not unknown to law enforcement or counter terrorism experts.
French authorities have known for a time of the cauldron of radicalization brewing in their correctional system. In 2006, Pascal Maihlos, the director of Renseignements Généraux (RG), France's domestic intelligence agency, admitted to a problem of mixing hardened Islamic terrorists with common criminals that was producing a crop of new jihadists.
In 1999, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) in New York learned of a plan hatched by an incarcerated terrorist to send recently released convicts overseas to the Middle East to receive tactical training. In 2010, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee released a report stating that at as many as three dozen ex-cons had traveled to Yemen to receive AQAP training.
Which brings us to the administration’s plan to close the Guantanamo detention center, something it cannot do without congressional approval, by either releasing detainees to other countries or by transferring them to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
Both options are dangerously foolish and fraught with peril. Releasing terrorists to a neutral country does not insure that they will not be able to travel or reconnect with former jihadist associates, as Said Shihri did.
Placing them in the Bureau of Prisons will not restrict them from influencing other inmates to their cause. John Walker Lindh, otherwise known as the “American Taliban, captured in Afghanistan fighting alongside al-Qaida. Many counter- terrorism experts also felt that he was in part responsible for the death of CIA Officer John Michael Spann killed during a prison uprising at Qala-i-Jangi Detention Center.
Lindh recently won a lawsuit filed in Federal Court challenging the BOP’s authority to restrict his movement and interaction with other inmates. He is now allowed to co-mingle with other potential jihadists at least five times a day. (The fact that he was chosen by the other inmates to be their spokesman and Imam, leader of the inmate Muslim community demonstrates his influence)
The current threat posed by ISIS is compounded by the fact that officials are now finding out that the entire command and control center for this organization was formulated with its leaders, including it’s emir Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, while incarcerated in Camp Bucca prison in Iraqi.  All  were subsequently given their freedom when the prison was turned over to Iraqi officials.

Unless the United States and other Western democracies take firm decisive action to keep captured or convicted terrorists behind bars, we will see more heinous acts like the ones that took place in Paris.
The current “catch and release” program in the war on terrorism simply does not work.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Attacking the Sacred Cow of Journalism

On January 7th heavily armed jihadists conducted a deadly attack on the streets of Paris with precision.  Twelve individuals were killed, including two policemen.  At least eleven others were wounded.  The target of the attack was the headquarters of the Charlie Hebdo, a weekly periodical that often publishes satirical cartoons
and articles.

NPR News reported that eight of the individuals killed were "journalists".

The response from politicians and the main stream media was quick and with clarity.
President Obama called it an "act of terrorism"  Unlike the initial administration's response regarding the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, there was no ambiguity here.  The President made no mention of any correlation to any anti-Muslim videos or cartoons as the catalyst for the attack.
One has to ask why?  The President and the main stream media considered this action on one of the bastions of western civilization and democracy, the free press, as outrageous and threatening the very fibre of society.
A question arises over their astonishment to this latest terrorist attack, which had been precluded by a warning from both ISIS and counter terrorism experts that an orchestrated attack would soon take place in Europe and/or the United States.  No less than John Miller the head of Counterterrorism and Intelligence for NYPD stated recently, in regard to another terrorist attack on the West, "I think it's less a question of if, more a question of when."
The failure of the main stream media to do true investigative journalistic work in this war on terrorism in general and radical Islam specifically leads me to enquire of their nobility.
What else were you expecting?  That somehow radical Islamists would be won over by reason and logic.  That they would cease the senseless violent acts because the West showed them the error of their ways.
When groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS issue proclamations that they will kill their enemies.  When they name Western Civilization "Boko Haram"  they are deadly serious.  A true journalist would seek to find not only how these organizations came to be but how they continue to prosper.  An old adage in investigations was "follow the money"  No criminal organization or terrorist group can function without funds, whether they receive it from pseudo charities or acquiescent governments.  This is nothing new.  Terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas have milked this cow for years.
We however have attempted to manage this war through a doctrine of appeasement.  The jihadist understands one thing and one thing only, the sword.
If journalists are truly angered over this attack let them get out from behind their desks and hit the bricks.  Dig deep and find the sources.  Write about the methodology by which Al-Qaeda and ISIS receive their funding.  Expose the individuals and organizations that are assisting these groups.
Follow the truth and cease from writing about nonsense.  That is the way true journalism and the press can help in this war.  And don't  be fooled.  It is a war and in this war no institution is safe.  Inaction is not an option.  To paraphrase the words of Mordecai to Esther "do not think that because you live in the hallowed halls you can escape this threat any more than the others."
Radical Islamic terrorists have killed thousands of innocent individuals from all walks of life.  Mothers, fathers, children, students, relief workers, policemen, and scores of other vocations have suffered at the hands of those who profess to do the work of Allah.  They have attacked schools, churches, synagogues, office buildings and now newspapers.
 No loss is insignificant and no life greater than another.

French authorities have identified 3 individuals involved in the attack.  One was a former inmate.
Two officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, named the suspects to the Associated Press as Frenchmen Said Kouachi and Cherif Kouachi, in their early 30s, as well as 18-year-old Hamyd Mourad, whose nationality wasn't immediately clear.

Cherif Kouachi was convicted in 2008 of terrorism charges for helping funnel fighters to Iraq's insurgency and sentenced to 18 months in prison.