The House Homeland Security Committee plans a hearing today on at terrorist recruitment in jails and prisons, NPR reports. The last time New York Rep. Peter King (R) examined radicalization among Muslims, he generated a backlash from religious and civil rights groups. Those who study prisons said the number of criminals who turn to extremism behind bars is small but worrisome.
Six years ago, police arrested two men at a Los Angeles-area apartment building. Authorities said the men were on the verge of attacking synagogues and U.S. military recruiting stations. Justice Department sources call it the most serious domestic terrorist threat since September 11th. The leader, Kevin James, orchestrated the plot from inside California’s New Folsom Prison, where he was locked up for armed robberies as a member of the Crips gang. Mark Hamm, an Indiana State University criminologist, studied the case. “I mean this is fairly remarkable that you can send somebody to a maximum security prison and while behind bars they can still wage a terrorist attack,” he says. Gregory Saathoff of the Critical Incident Analysis Group at the University of Virginia said the James case exposed a real vulnerability, especially in state facilities.