KINGSTON, Jamaica — U.S. diplomats have expressed concern that an Islamic cleric convicted of whipping up racial hatred among Muslim converts in Britain might do the same thing in his homeland of Jamaica, according to a leaked cable from the island’s U.S. Embassy.
The dispatch, dated February 2010, warns that that Jamaica could be fertile ground for jihadists because of its underground drug economy, marginalized youth, insufficient security and gang networks in U.S. and British prisons, along with thousands of American tourists.
U.S. diplomats and law enforcement officials have expressed concern in the past that Middle Eastern terror groups might forge alliances with drug traffickers or take advantage of general lawlessness in parts of Latin America and the Caribbean.
The cable is one of the quarter million confidential American diplomatic dispatches first obtained by anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks and separately obtained by The Associated Press.
Some of Britain’s most dangerous al-Qaeda leaders are promoting jihad from inside high-security prisons by smuggling out propaganda for the internet and finding recruits. In an authoritative report, the “counter-terrorism think tank” Quilliam claims “mismanagement” by the Prison Service is helping al-Qaeda gain recruits and risks “strengthening jihadist movements”.
Abu Qatada, described by MI5 as “Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe”, has published fatwas – religious rulings – on the internet from Long Lartin prison, in Worcestershire, calling for holy war and the murder of moderate Muslims, it reveals.
Prison staff visited a city mosque to help prevent young Muslim prisoners from being “radicalised” by extremist inmates. Luke Serjeant, governor of Woodhill prison on Tattenhoe Street, said staff aimed to develop better understanding and links with Muslim communities to help protect the 100 Muslim prisoners at Woodhill from being targeted by Islamic extremists. Serjeant was featured on Channel 4 documentary Dispatches on Monday night, as it focused on the spread of Islamic extremism throughout British prisons. The programme revealed evidence that extremists were targeting young, vulnerable inmates that feel alienated from society and want a sense of purpose. One of the ways the service is responding is to provide a carefully vetted Islamic leader, or Imam, in each jail to guide and teach followers of the religion.
An exhibition of works made in British prisons offers a glimpse into the lives of 40 Muslim men who were held without charge after 9/11. Victoria Brittain tells their stories: When much of this artwork was made, in Belmarsh prison in the aftermath of the post 9/11 roundups of Muslim men who were held without trial, none of these men would have imagined that almost seven years later they would be in an even worse position. After the House of Lords ruling in December 2004 that detention without trial was unlawful, they went from Belmarsh in south-east London to a world of house arrests with stringent conditions and threatened deportations, or to Long Lartin prison in Worcestershire with bail refused thereafter to most. Seemingly endless legal appeals in the Special Immigration Appeals Tribunal (Siac) and again to the House of Lords have followed, on deportations to countries that practise torture – Algeria, Libya and Jordan – and on the conditions of the house arrests under control orders or deportation bail. Britain has become for these men not a refuge but Kafka country. Evidence against them is kept secret even from their lawyers. And the system of Siac special advocates – senior barristers who can see the secret evidence but not disclose it – has been utterly discredited since Ian MacDonald QC resigned in 2004, saying that his role was, “to provide a false legitimacy to indefinite detention without knowledge of the accusations being made and without any kind of criminal charge or trial. For me this is untenable.” Victoria Brittain reports.