A captive audience for ex-cons like “Sheikh” Khalid Yasin:

We Muslims have been ordered to do ‘brainwashing’

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with about 1.4 million people behind bars across the country, meaning that there is  a captive audience.

Case in point:

Radical Islam spreading in US prisons – lawmakers

Anyone who questions the necessity of Rep Peter King’s hearings on Islamic extremism in the prison system is playing for the other team.

You knew this was coming: Arrested jihadists’ families and friends shocked! (tomorrow’s headlines today: Muslims fear ‘backlash’ over failed terrorist attack…. you know the drill…)

AFP/Getty Images – Committee Chairman Rep. Peter King participates in a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on Capitol 

WASHINGTON, D.C.: US prisons are becoming a hotbed for indoctrinating inmates and turning them into radical Muslims, US lawmakers were told on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) in the second of a series of controversial hearings.

“Despite appearances, prison walls are porous. Outside influences access those on the inside, and inmates reach from the inside out,” Patrick Dunleavy, a retired New York prison inspector, told US lawmakers.

“Individuals and groups that subscribe to radical Islamic ideology have made sustained efforts to target inmates for indoctrination,” he said.

He was addressing a hearing of the House committee on Homeland Security, led by Republican Rep. Peter King of New York, whose first session in March on Muslim radicalization in the United States drew accusations of a religious witch hunt.

“Dozens of [former convicts] who became radicalized Muslims inside US prisons have gone to Yemen to join an al-Qaeda group run by a fellow American, Anwar al-Awlaqi,” King told the committee.

Awlaqi’s “terrorists have attacked the US homeland several times since 2008 and are generally acknowledged to be al-Qaeda most dangerous affiliate,” he added.

King has accused Muslim leaders and mosque imams of doing too little to stop the radicalization of young Americans and of not cooperating with law enforcement.

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with about 1.4 million people behind bars across the country, meaning that there is potentially a captive audience.

“The prison population is vulnerable to radicalization by the same agents responsible for radicalizing Americans outside of the prison walls,” said Dunleavy, who has investigated terror recruitment in New York prisons.

“The initial exposure to extremist jihadi Islam may begin in prison. However, it often matures and deepens after the release,” he added.

And militant groups have little difficulty in smuggling materials into cells, he charged.

“Jihadi and extremist literature finds its way through the mail, even though it is largely prohibited. Anything can be gotten in prison, including a PDA or a smartphone,” he said.

But Purdue University sociology professor Bert Useem took a less alarmist stance, saying, “The crux of my testimony is that prisons have not served as a major source of jihad radicalization.”

He insisted that prison guards were vigilant about the dangers.

“Rather than waiting for facilities to be penetrated by radicalizing groups, correctional leaders have fashioned, staffed and energized the effort to defeat radicalization,” he said.

Former assistant US attorney Kevin Smith said, “The particular group that we’re talking about, these particular radicalized inmates, represent a very small proportion.”

He recognized, though, that “it’s a small portion with a much greater exponential danger for the community.”