Radical Islam in American Prisons Blues From Allah

by Chuck Colson

I've spoken before and written op-ed pieces of the dangers of radical Islam in America's prisons and how prisons are prime breeding ground for future terrorists. When I do this, invariably I get letters accusing me of being inflammatory and too harsh on Islam. Sad to say, these warnings were confirmed in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal.

According to the Journal, in the weeks following September 11, one imam announced to a prison audience, "The hijackers should be honored as martyrs… The U.S. risks further terrorism attacks because it oppresses Muslims around the world. Without justice, there will be warfare" on American soil. The speaker, until recently, was on the public payroll.

Warith Deen Umar was the driving force behind the Islamic prison program in New York. He recruited and trained dozens of chaplains and ministered to thousands of inmates.

Umar practices an austere brand of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism, which originated in Saudi Arabia. It's the sect to which bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders belong.

Wahhabis believe in a literal reading of the Qurán. One cleric says, the Qurán proves "with absolute clarity that there is a religious requirement to despise the infidel Jews and Christians."

Umar traveled frequently to Saudi Arabia and studied there as part of a Saudi program to spread Wahhabism in American prisons. That should have been enough to alarm prison officials, but it didn't.

Even after one of Umar's protégés preached that September 11 was "God's punishment on the wicked," and another called bin Laden a "soldier of Allah," officials still didn't intervene-apparently afraid of inciting a riot.

Ironically, Americans in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to practice their Christian faith, but Saudis are flooding our prisons with Quráns and Wahhabism. This is the wrong kind of free trade between two supposedly friendly countries.

The good news is that New York prison officials have acted. The radicals have been removed. But there is a cautionary tale here. We should not allow our prisons to become breeding grounds for terrorism. We should prohibit extremist activity wherever it arises.

When I served in the Marines, I was ready to put my life on the line for those glorious words of the Declaration of Independence: "All men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights." And I will just as vigorously defend religious liberty today for all people, not just Christians.

At the same time, prison officials and public officials need to be vigilant. No religious sect should be allowed to preach a doctrine that promotes violence, especially in prison. It's a perversion of religious liberty that if unchecked, undermines everyone's religious liberty. The Aryan Brotherhood, for example, claims to be Christian but teaches violence and racism. They are segregated in prisons, and preachers are not allowed to fan their beliefs. These restrictions are appropriate, but let's not kid ourselves. Radical Islam falls into the same category.

This is one case when the price of liberty is vigilance, right under our nose in the prisons.

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