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June 10, 2011

Thompson Statement on Muslim Radicalization in Prisons Hearing

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, released the following statement regarding next week's Committee hearing on The Threat of Muslim-American Radicalization in U.S. Prisons. The hearing will take place on Wednesday, June 15th.

In 2007, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee held a hearing examining the threat posed by Islam being used in prison to create a cadre of violent extremists. Focusing on Europe, that hearing examined an al-Qaeda training manual seized by British authorities in 2003 which directed its operatives to actively recruit fellow inmates. And with that hearing, the fear of prison radicalization in America was born.

The facts have proven that prison radicalization is an unfounded fear in America. According to the Congressional Research Service, in the ten years since 9/11, only one of the more than 40 attacks committed by violent Muslim extremists involved radicalization in prison. The U.S. prison system has not become a hotbed for radicalization and terrorist activity - nor is it likely to become one. In most American prisons, inmates do not have internet access and mail is routinely screened by prison officials. Prison chaplains, including Imams, must be certified and vetted before they can conduct services or meet with inmates. When radical Imams do slip through the cracks, as occurred in New York in 2003, they are quickly discovered and banned.

Last month, U.S. soldiers killed Bin Laden and confiscated a major stash of documents and intelligence. Yesterday, a Chicago jury convicted Tahawwur Rana, on terrorism related charges. Yet, despite these developments, this Committee refuses to expand its narrowly focused homeland security agenda. We should not focus on people who are already known and behind bars. We must focus on the threat posed by those who are only a bomb explosion away from becoming known—the homegrown terrorist operating in a small cell or as a lone wolf.

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Media Contact: Adam Comis at (202) 225-9978