Accessibility links

Breaking News

Report Claims British Muslims Radicalized in Prison

British security experts say Britain is facing a "new wave" of amateur terrorist attacks by lone individuals. The Royal United Services Institute says hundreds of potential terrorists may emerge from Britain's prison system over the course of the next decade. But, Britain's Ministry of Justice strongly disputes the report's findings, saying most of the 6,000 people in high security prisons are not Muslims.

The report published by the security think tank RUSI says the nature of terror tactics are changing. In Britain, it says, a shift is taking place that will see less large-scale terror attacks. Instead, individual extremists without serious training or resources will pose an increasing threat during the next decade.

Michael Clarke heads the think tank and co-wrote the report. He says this new form of terrorism would strain Britain's security service.

"Lone individuals are much harder to track. If they are not part of a cell structure they cannot be penetrated so easily. If they are not dealing with other people they are not going to give as many leads to the intelligence services," he said.

Clarke says Britain's prisons will be one hot spot for the radicalization of Muslims. It says influential extremist Muslims who are behind bars in Britain may indoctrinate others.

"We do have in the United Kingdom a group of Muslims in prisons who we know are subject to pressures of radicalization," said Clarke. "And if one in ten of those prisoners are being successfully radicalized then in the next few years there are going to be several hundred people who will take a more radical view as they emerge from prison."

The report says up to 800 "potentially violent radicals" could be released from jail in the next decade who could pose a serious threat to Britain's security.

Britain's Ministry of Justice strongly disputed this estimate on Friday. It says jihadist radicalization is not taking place at a rapid rate in Britain's prisons. It says most of the 6,000 people in high security prisons are not Muslims.

Isabella Sankey is from the Britain-based human rights group Liberty.

She says there is no reason to assume that Muslims in Britain's prison are any more likely to become radicalized than those in the wider community. She says radicalization is partly a result of actions taken by the government. She says certain policies unfairly discriminate against Muslims and other ethnic minorities, such as police powers to stop and search individuals without suspicion.

"The state, the government, security policy must play its own role in making sure that those individuals who are likely to be radicalized are not given more cause to do so," she said.

The report says the possibility of a terrorist attack looms over upcoming sporting events Britain including the 2012 Olympic Games.