In an effort to combat the growing threat of radicalization in U.S. prisons, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Rep. Peter King (R-NY) today asked the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to remove inflammatory written, audio and video materials produced by the "Nation of Islam" and Louis Farrakhan in BOP facilities and to conduct a comprehensive audit of all other Islamic texts and sermons made available to inmates, including a review of procedures for vetting such materials.
In a letter to BOP Acting Director Thomas Kane, Wolf and King cited a memo prepared by the House Homeland Security Committee which King chairs that documents numerous anti-American materials available to prisoners including videos titled "Conspiracy of the US Government" and "Which One Will You Choose: The Flag of Islam or the Flag of America?"
The Homeland Security Committee also identified multiple questionable statements made by Farrakhan and other anti-American propaganda being distributed in prisons.
In one video Farrakhan reportedly states "I hasten to tell you that the precious lives that were lost in the World Trade Center was a cover, a cover for a war that had been planned to bring a pipeline through Afghanistan to bring oil from that region, oil owned by Unocal, of which Dick Cheney is a stock holder."
In their letter, Wolf and King also highlight an incident that occurred last month in which two radicalized converts were arrested for attempting a "Fort Hood-style assault" on a military facility in Seattle, Washington. According to ABC News, "both suspects were believed to have met in prison and to have converted to Islam in prison."
King convened a hearing earlier this year on the threat of radicalization in U.S. prisons.
"It defies common sense that any inmate, let alone convicted al Qaeda terrorists, would be able to receive anti-American and anti-Semitic propaganda from the Bureau of Prisons," said King. "It is imperative that BOP not only remove all materials produced by the "Nation of Islam' and Louis Farrakhan but ensure that all other Islamic texts provided to inmates are vetted."
Wolf is chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on Commerce-Justice-Science responsible for funding the BOP.
"I want to thank Chairman King for his work on this critical issue," Wolf said. "As chairman of the subcommittee that funds the Justice Department, I am committed to conducting thorough oversight of BOP to ensure that our prisons are not breeding grounds for terrorism."
The full text of Wolf and King's letter is available below.
Dear Acting Director Kane:
On June 15, the House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing titled, "The Threat of Muslim-American Radicalization in U.S. Prisons," as part of its oversight of the federal response to domestic radicalization. Chairman King's hearings have been critical to understanding the evolving threat of terrorism to Americans. As you know, prisons -- both in the U.S. and abroad -- have been a fertile breeding ground for violent ideology leading to radicalization. As former Bureau of Prisons (BOP) director Harley Lappin testified, "Inmates are particularly vulnerable to recruitment by terrorists," and "[BOP] must guard against the spread of terrorism and extremist ideologies."
Over the last several years, we have witnessed repeated attempts by former prisoners who converted to Islam in U.S. prisons attempting to commit terrorist attacks. Just last month, two radicalized converts were arrested for attempting a "Fort Hood-style assault" on a military facility in Seattle, Washington. According to ABC News, "both suspects were believed to have met in prison and to have converted to Islam in prison."
In 2004, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Justice Department released a report that concluded that "The BOP's selection process [for Muslim chaplains, literature and videos] needs improvement to further protect the BOP from hiring religious services providers that could pose security threats." Specifically, the report noted that "Inmates can be radicalized in many ways, including through the delivery of anti-U.S. sermons, exposure to other radical inmates, or the distribution of extremist literature." The report included a series of recommendations to protect BOP inmates from radicalization, specifically calling on BOP to "conduct an inventory of chapel books and videos and re-screen them to confirm that they are permissible."
That is why we were deeply concerned to learn from the Homeland Security Committee hearing memorandum that seven years after the OIG report:
"At the direction of the Justice Department, [BOP] plays sermons by Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam in prison chapel services. Staff obtained a list of the titles of the Nation of Islam sermons played in Federal prisons and reviewed several. In one, Farrakhan states, "I hasten to tell you that the precious lives that were lost in the World Trade Center was a cover, a cover for a war that had been planned to bring a pipeline through Afghanistan to bring oil from that region, oil owned by Unocal, of which Dick Cheney is a stock holder.'
"Nation of Islam video titles include:
o Bible Truth or Altered by the White Man?
o Conspiracy of the International Bankers
o Conspiracy of the US Government
o Controversy with Jews
o Which One Will You Choose, the Flag of Islam or the Flag of America?"
It is absolutely unacceptable that BOP would provide convicted al Qaeda terrorists held at ADX Florence -- or any other inmates -- with anti-American and anti-Semitic propaganda. We ask you to immediately remove all written, audio and video materials produced by the "Nation of Islam" and Louis Farrakhan from all BOP facilities. We also request that you launch an immediate and comprehensive audit of all other Islamic texts and sermons made available to inmates in BOP facilities, including a review of your procedures for vetting such materials.
We look forward to your prompt response to these requests. It is imperative that BOP stay vigilant about the continued effort to distribute anti-American paraphernalia in any of its facilities.
Frank R. Wolf