Isolating Islamist radicals in separate areas of prisons is a dangerous policy which risks “creating time bombs” according to France’s controller-general for prisons.
France has been separating Islamist radicals from other inmates since October last year, when it separated 22 Islamist inmates from the general population in Fresnes Prison under a pilot scheme.
Yet, Controller-General Adeline Hazan raised concerns that the separation of prisoners may be making the situation worse.
In her report, published June 30, Hazan warned, “The consolidation of radicalized inmates poses risks that do not seem to have been taken into account, including the cohabitation of prisoners exhibiting widely disparate levels of radicalization.”
It is feared those in quarantine would become more radicalized. Camp Bucca prison in Iraq that saw some 100,000 inmates pass through its doors is said to have played an important role in the formation of the Islamic State.
The Washington Post reported in November 2014,“According to former prison commanders, analysts and soldiers, Camp Bucca provided a unique setting for both prisoner radicalization and inmate collaboration — and was formative in the development of today’s most potent jihadist force.”
The Daily Kos reported that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s 10-month stay at the prison was a key part of radicalization and transformation into the Caliph of the Islamic State.
The problem of prison radicalization is particularly acute in France where over half of the prison population is Muslim and there is a chronic shortage of chaplains to counter the message of Islamist recruiters.
One example of radicalization in France's prison was Mohamed Merah, 23, who killed four Jews and three soldiers in 2012 in the city of Toulouse. Merah became radicalized while spending time in jail for violent theft.
Two of the terrorists who carried out the attacks in January attacks in Paris were in the same prison.
Prison radicalization is also a problem in the US. In 2011 the Committee on Homeland Security held a hearing to discuss the problem of radicalization in US prisons.
Watch our clip from the Third Jihad about US prison radicalization: