Prisons are proving the weakest links in anti-terrorism efforts
Mumbai, June 30 : Indonesia is facing a new problem : Militants in jails are recruiting new followers to their Jihadi cause. The problem is said to have arising as the militants have apparently got re-organized in the prisons. Although the Indonesian prisons are said to be the ‘weakest link’, the phenomena is worldwide.
According to the Indonesian govt, most of the militants are jailed after the govt’s sweeping crackdown on terrorism in the past decade.
The crackdown came after the 2002 nightclub bombing in Bali island, killing 202 people, most of them being American & Australian tourists. The govt & international intelligence agencies feared the connections between the local (Southeast Asian) terrorist groups & Al Qaida. The fears were proved to be true when the Bali bombing suspect Umar Patek was arrested from a Pakistani town Abbottabad, last January. Abbottabad is the same place where Osama bin Laden was killed by American forces this May.
A news agency was granted two days of free access to Porong prison in early June by the chief warden, who wanted to show that changes were being made to limit the influence of jihadi inmates. But the interviews with terrorists and other convicts show how openly the former still court influence over some of the convicts.
Porong prison contains a group of low raise concrete buildings set on 40 acres (15 hectares) near Surabaya, the country's second-biggest city. It is home to 27 deadly terrorists. A total of 150 of them were held in prisons across the sprawling Indonesian archipelago.
They start with reading the Quran or teach Islam to ordinary prisoners.
Muhammad Syarif Tarabubun, a former police officer, was sentenced to 15 years for his role in the same attack. He laughs easily as he explains his extremist views. He reportedly told a reporter of the news agency that, he plans to join a jihad in Afghanistan, Iraq or Lebanon after his likely early release in 2013 for good behavior. He says that the death of Osama bin Laden will not ruin their spirit for jihad.
Radicalisation – a common problem
Radicalisation is common in Pakistan's and Afghanistan's overcrowded prisons, where thousands of terrorists and insurgents mix freely with others, according to a multi-country study by the London-based International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence.
In the US, Omar Abdel Rahman, jailed after his conviction for his involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, managed to send inflammatory messages from his prison cell to followers in Egypt. There is debate over whether and how far Islamic radicals are infiltrating US prisons.
Saudi’s unique ‘Arab’ way to curb radicalisation
One exception may be Saudi Arabia, which is fending off radicalization in prisons through an unusually well-funded and comprehensive program. Its "golden handcuffs" approach of finding wives for captured terrorists and enmeshing them in a web of personal, financial, religious and professional obligations once released is regarded as pioneering.
The weakest link
According to a research agency named International Crisis Group, working on terrorism, Indonesian terrorists, who have been jailed, are becoming more and more fierce. Sidney Jones, one of the experts studying terrorism, calls Indonesia's prisons ‘the weakest link’ in the counterterrorism efforts. She warns that this weakest link is going to undermine everything that the law enforcement agencies including police are doing to break up these networks.
Now, the international agencies working on terrorism & various countries are trying to find a way to filter out the radicalization from the prisons & correctional centers across the world.