More scaremongering over ‘radicalised’ Muslim prisoners

PrintBritain faces a potential “new wave” of home-grown terrorist attacks as a result of an escalating rate of radicalisation of Muslims inside the prison system, according to a report published today by a leading defence and security thinktank.

The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) says that up to 800 “potentially violent radicals” who have not been convicted of terrorist offences could be released from prisons in England and Wales over the next five to 10 years and will pose a significant challenge to the security services to identify them.

The estimate rests upon “prison probation sources” saying that one in 10 of the 8,000 Muslim prisoners in high security jails in England and Wales could be successfully targeted.

However, the Ministry of Justice disputed the figures in the report. It said last night: “The prison and probation service does not recognise the figure of 800 ‘violent radicals’ referred to in the report, nor do we agree that jihadist radicalisation is taking place at a rapid rate.

“There are only 6,000 prisoners in the high security estate, most of whom are not Muslim. The figure of ‘one in 10 of the 8,000 Muslims’ in the high security estate is therefore unrecognisable.”

Guardian, 27 August 2010

So the RUSI report’s figures, which are evidently based on nothing more substantial than the subjective opinion of unnamed individuals in the probation service, don’t add up. Or at any rate the report’s authors know so little about the subject that they are unable to distinguish between the general Muslim prison population and those in high security jails. Unsurprisingly, the right-wing press doesn’t see the need to highlight this point.

The Mail performs its usual trick of running a shock-horror headline (“Muslim inmates ‘turning to terror’ as think tank says convicted terrorists are radicalising fellow inmates”) while burying the Ministry of Justice’s rejection of the RUSI’s claim at the bottom of the article. The Sun (“800 fanatical Muslim lags ‘waiting to hit UK'”) and the Star (“Muslim radicals bred behind bars says think-tank”) do the same. And, just to show that the liberal press isn’t immune to this sort of thing either, so does the Independent (“Muslims ‘being turned into terrorists in jail'”).

Neither the Telegraph (“Britain faces new terror wave”) nor the Express (“Jailed Muslims ‘converted to terrorist cause'”) bother to quote the Ministry of Justice at all.

Predictably, it is the Telegraph version of the story that is reproduced by Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch.