An elite group of correction officers, police and federal agents is closely monitoring suspected radicals at New York City jails to prevent them from recruiting angry and isolated prisoners into their fold, says the New York Daily News. Authorities believe the jails, along with prisons across the nation, could become fertile recruiting grounds for homegrown jihadists who follow the teachings of Osama Bin Laden and other Islamic terrorists. “We aggressively monitor all security risk groups,” said Martin Horn, who runs the city’s Department of Correction. “We have our own intelligence unit and we’re always looking at inmate alliances.”
“Inmates may be drawn to an extreme form of Islam because it may help justify their violent tendencies,” says FBI director Robert Mueller. “These persons represent a heightened threat because of their criminal histories, their propensity for violence, and their contacts with criminals.” Steven Emerson, a counterterrorism expert in Washington, D.C., said that “Prisons are incubators for extremist ideology. There’s no recognition of the problem in federal prisons. And there’s no national oversight of the state prison system.” Elected officials including Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have called for hiring of more Arabic speakers to help collect intelligence on federal inmates. The Justice Department also has chided its Bureau of Prisons for failing to conduct background checks on imams who counsel prisoners.