• A former inmate of Belmarsh prison says jail is ‘like a jihadi training camp’
• Said extremists ‘brainwash young prisoners to spread the terror message’
• The whistleblower said this is then spread across the whole prison system
• Says extremists deliberately getting custodial sentences to target inmates
Belmarsh maximum security jail is ‘like a jihadi training camp’ where extremists ‘brainwash young prisoners to spread the terror message across the whole prison system’, a former inmate claims.
The source revealed that a group of jihadists who call themselves ‘the brothers’ or ‘the Akhi (Arabic for brother) appear to ‘almost have the run of the prison’.
Not only that but ‘governors, prison officers and imams all know about this’, according to the whistleblower, a Muslim university graduate recently been released from a sentence for bank fraud.
He told the Evening Standard that London’s Belmarsh prison, home to many convicted terrorists and terror-related offenders, was ‘the worst’.
The source added: ‘The problem is that Belmarsh is also a holding prison and so young people who are brainwashed and indoctrinated then go out into the wider prison system and create wider Akhi networks.’
The revelations come ahead of tomorrow’s Queen Speech, when a number of new measures to tackle extremism and wider reforms of the prison system are expected to be announced by the Government.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman confirmed that there are 28 inmates being held in Belmarsh for terrorism or terror-related offences.
But the spokesman would not discuss Belmarsh’s policy of allowing prisoners held on terror-related offences to mix freely with other inmates, and whether this would be reviewed.
EXTREMISTS WHO HAVE BEEN HELD IN BELMARSH MAXIMUM SECURITY JAIL
The jihadi extremist who murdered Lee Rigby was moved from HMP Belmarsh to Frankland in County Durham after fears that he was trying to radicalise other inmates.
Michael Adebolajo later complained about being segregated from other Muslim prisoners, writing to support group Muslim Prisoners who said: ‘The guards at Frankland are worse than Belmarsh for treatment of Muslims. This move is deliberate.’
Adebolajo was at Belmarsh when he lashed out at officers who were trying to escort him to his cell in July 2013. His head reportedly hit a window but he refused medical attention afterwards.
He later tried to seek compensation from the taxpayer after his teeth were knocked out.
The five officers involved in the incident were suspended on full pay during a six-week police investigation. They were cleared and returned to work.
Adebolajo and his accomplice Adebowale murdered Fusilier Rigby near the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, South-East London, in May 2013.
They knocked Rigby down in a car and then hacked him to death with knives and a cleaver. Both of the attackers were found guilty of Rigby’s murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Adebolajo was given a whole life order and Adebowale was ordered to serve at least 45 years.
Belmarsh was also home to hate preacher Abu Hamza al-Masri, before he was extradited to the US in 2012 at the end of an eight-year legal battle.
It was in London that Hamza began his rise to public notoriety as the Finsbury Park mosque imam, where he arrived in 1997.
One year later, in 1998, he helped organise hostage-taking of 16 mostly British tourists in Yemen. Three Britons and an Australian killed in rescue mission.
In 2000, he set up a terrorist training camp in Bly, Oregon, sending volunteers and money to Afghanistan to support al Qaeda and the Taliban.
He firmly placed himself on the national radar in 2001 after speaking out in support of Osama bin Laden following the September 11 attacks.
His inflammatory speeches led to the Charity Commission suspending him from his position at Finsbury Park Mosque the following year.
In 2003, legal moves begin to get Hamza deported to Yemen, a move which he appealed.
In 2004 Hamza was arrested on a US extradition warrant over charges of conspiring to take hostages in Yemen, funding terrorism, and organising a terrorist training camp in Oregon. Charged with 15 offences under the Terrorism Act, temporarily staying US extradition.
In 2006, Hamza was jailed for seven years at the Old Bailey after being found guilty of 11 of 15 charges, but the courts still battled to have him extradited.
He was finally extradited in October 2012, and appeared in a U.S. court, indicted under the name Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, where he pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges.
In May 2014, Hamza was convicted of all 11 charges on terrorism offences at Manhattan’s Federal Court and sentenced to life in prison.
DENIAL BY ESTABLISHMENT
A Ministry of Justice Prison Service spokesman said: ‘There is no evidence to back up these specific claims about HMP Belmarsh — where our hard-working staff successfully manage a very challenging group of prisoners.
‘But we are not remotely complacent about the risks that Islamist extremism poses in prisons. That is why the Secretary of State commissioned a review of how the prison system deals with this issue.’
It is not the first time concerns have been raised about the number of Islamist extremists being locked up in British prisons for terror offences.
Earlier this year it was claimed that some are deliberately getting custodial sentences so that they can target this pool of disaffected young men.
In turn, there is growing evidence of the spread within prisons of Muslim gangs who wield so much power that other prisoners feel coerced into converting or doing as they bid in other ways.
Belmarsh prison has the most Muslim inmates, 248 of 868 — or more than 28 per cent.
‘If our prisons are going to be filled with more terrorism offenders, then I think they will also get even more full with radicalised individuals,’ warns Jonathan Russell, head of policy at counter-extremism think tank Quilliam.
‘There is a significant danger that our prisons will become net exporters of extremism, when, surely, if we are arresting terrorists, they should be net reducers.
‘And if we don’t get it right, the very real danger is that when people come out they will be further radicalised and further hardened to commit violence.’
Indeed, so pressing is the problem that the Government has announced it is considering the possibility of setting up ‘jihadi jails’ — prisons which solely house Islamist extremist terrorists.
In February, David Cameron hinted at this radical new approach as he described tackling religious extremism as the ‘new front’ in prisons.
‘We have about 1,000 prisoners who have been identified as extremists or vulnerable to extremism,’ he said. ‘Some of these individuals are preying on the weak, forcing conversion to Islam, and spreading their warped view of the world.
‘I am prepared to consider major changes, from the Imams we allow to teach in prison to changing the locations and methods of dealing with prisoners convicted of terrorism.’
VISION: DAVID CAMERON’S PLANS TO SEGREGATE ISLAMIST PRISONERS
In February the Prime Minister said ministers were considering the plans as part of the Government’s renewed crackdown on extremism in UK jails.
Revealing that currently around 1,000 of Britain’s prison population have been identified as extremist or vulnerable to being radicalised, Mr Cameron said inmates convicted of terrorism offences could be relocated to separate locations if prison governors deemed it necessary.
The measures – part of a ‘new front’ to tackling radicalisation in jails – would prevent prisons becoming a recruitment target for extremists, where terrorists are able to convert ‘weak’ individuals to Islam through ‘intimidation, violence and grooming’ to spread a ‘warped view of the world’.
‘We will not stand by and watch people being radicalised like this while they are in the care of the state,’ Mr Cameron declared today in a major speech on prison reform – the first by a prime minister solely on jails in two decades.
‘And I want to be clear: I am prepared to consider major changes: from the imams we allow to preach in prison to changing the locations and methods for dealing with prisoners convicted of terrorism offences, if that is what is required.’
The anti-extremism crackdown was part of a radical set of prison reforms unveiled by the Prime Minister on Monday.
He also announced plans to make it easier for authorities to deport foreign criminals by forcing foreign nationals to hand over their passports and declare their nationality in court.
It follows complaints from prison governors that they struggle to identify the nationality of inmates after they have arrived in prison, which slows down the process for deportation.
Mr Cameron said: ‘Of course, there is one group I do want out of prison much more quickly, instead of British taxpayers forking out for their bed and breakfast: and that is foreign national offenders.
‘One of the big barriers here is that we don’t systematically record the nationality of offenders early enough – and this can hamper our ability to deport them.
‘I know the frustrations of prison governors when they have to try to find out someone’s nationality after they’ve already arrived in prison.
‘So I can announce today that we will now legislate to give the police new powers to require foreign nationals to hand over their passports, and make them declare their nationality in court.’
‘It will help speed up the deportation of foreign criminals in Britain.’
Other major reforms announced today were plans to allow some prisoners out during the week.
The move will see inmates nearing the end of their sentences only locked up behind bars at weekends.
And prisoners will not be forced to declare their criminal records on job applications under new proposals.
Maximum security Belmarsh prison is ‘like a jihadi training camp,’ says former inmate standard.co.uk
Article Link: dailymail.co.uk
Date-stamped: 18 May 2016
Time-stamped: 07:54 AEST
Author: Sam Tonkin for Mailonline