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Radicalization in three high security UK prisons on the rise as Muslim gangs force inmates to embrace Islam

According to the study, there is a significant presence of Muslim prisoners in three high-security prisons in England. About 12847 prisoners in these prisons are Muslims. Out of the total number of prisoners lodged in for the charges of terrorism, 90% are Muslims.

There is a growing hegemony of Muslim gangs at three high-security prisons in the United Kingdom. The latest report by the UK Ministry of Justice touches upon this alarming situation along with how these groups are foisting their Islamic beliefs on other inmates. The report suggests these groups aim at bringing other inmates under the fold of Islam to strengthen their ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ in the prison.

According to the study, there is a significant presence of Muslim prisoners in three high-security prisons in England. About 12847 prisoners in these prisons are Muslims. Out of the total number of prisoners lodged in for the charges of terrorism, 90% are Muslims. The preponderance of Muslim detainees has resulted in the formation of groups and gangs within jails with ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ being a uniting factor for these seemingly diverse and heterogeneous groups of individuals.

The study entails how the Muslim prison gangs, which are often formed for criminal purposes, present both a management challenge due to criminal behaviour and sometimes through the risk of radicalization. Though these gangs and groups are not highly structured, they have an established hierarchical system.

The Muslim Brotherhood has allowed them to surround themselves with like-minded individuals with whom they share a common interest and focus. The study conducted by the Ministry of Justice revealed that individuals of the Muslim Brotherhood groups connected through a shared Muslim faith wielded more influence and dominance in the prison than other groups. The membership offered many supportive benefits including friendship, support, and religious familiarity.

The gang has clearly defined membership roles including leaders, recruiters, enforcers, followers, and foot-soldiers. Violence, bullying, and intimidation were prevalent with the gang, and religion is used to terrorize non-believers.

Most of the contraband goods circulated in the prisons were credited to these Muslim gangs. There were varied motivations for people to join groups such as- protection, safety, criminality, and power. Brotherhood provided lone vulnerable prisoners with a social setting. Many were proselytized to Islam by the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, who were often hailed by the gang members as scholars of Islam. The prisoners converted to Islam citing social acceptability and Islam offering them a ‘stricter’ way of life as primary reasons for the same.

An elaborate hierarchy was formulated to regulate and expand the group in the prisons. The roles assumed by gang members divided into leaders, recruiters, enforcers, and followers. Leaders, often the senior members in the gang, incarcerated in jail on terror charges generally spoke Arabic and claimed to be scholars of Islam. The younger ones were usually in awe of such leaders, often displaying excessive deference to their position and authority.

Recruiters were considered fundamental to the continuing dominance of Muslim gangs in the prisons. Prisoners, most vulnerable ones were approached to embrace Islam and join their Brotherhood. Coercion, pressure, violence were some of the themes adopted by the recruiters to increase the membership and continued dominance of their gangs. Indirect aggression was also employed as a psychological means to coerce inmates to convert.

Followers and foot-soldiers converted to Islam for criminality or under duress. They were expected to carry out criminal or violent activities directed by their leaders. Some foot-soldiers assumed the roles of Enforces to ensure strict adherence to Islamic doctrines and commitment towards the Brotherhood leaders.

Though the gang members appeared outwardly compliant to the prison staff, the rising amount of radicalization perpetuated by them is increasingly subversive of the prison management. The rampant radicalization within UK prisons is only set to worsen as the prison mates’ desire to command more authority, wield more influence and accumulate greater power intensifies. Prominent political commentators like David Vance had suggested building a Guantanamo kind of prison to contain the toxic radicalization in the UK prisons.

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