Originally Published: July 4, 2002 6:10 p.m.
The mail brings a letter from a self-identified African-American prison inmate (several of the same type have arrived since Sept. 11). He predicts Islam will take over the world and America's days are numbered.
This man is one of many converts to radical Islam under a program indirectly funded by Saudi Arabian money through the National Islamic Prison Foundation, which underwrites a "prison outreach" program. This program is likely to be discussed at the fifth annual Islam in American Prisons Conference, scheduled for July 5-7 at the Holiday Inn O'Hare International in Rosemont, Ill. (www.ISNA.net, click on "Islam in American Prisons").
One of the co-sponsors of the gathering is the Islamic Society of North America, which has ties to other Muslim groups in the U.S., some of which are up to no good. Let us hope that under the new Justice Department guidelines, the FBI will be attending and taking notes.
Prison Fellowship Chairman Charles Colson, who heads a Christian ministry to prisoners, believes that radical Islamic clerics, trained in Saudi Arabia, are converting large numbers of African-American inmates not only to their religion, but to their political objectives, including virulent anti-Americanism. Colson thinks such inmates could serve the radicals as terrorists once they are released, murdering their own countrymen in a kind of "payback" for perceived injustices done to them by white America.
Last Oct. 20, The New York Times quoted Faheem Shuaibe, imam at a large, predominately black mosque in Oakland, Calif., as saying that more than 200 African-American imams have been trained so far in Saudi Arabia. Shuaibe told the newspaper:
"There was a very deliberate recruitment process by the Saudis, trying to find black Muslims who had a real potential for Islamic learning and also for submission to their agenda. They taught Islam with the intent to expand their influence. A principal target was to stop the indigenous Muslim leadership in America from tinkering with their religion."
According to the Times story, the brand of Islam taught and exported was the most extreme sect, known as Wahhabism.
"These are bad guys," says Colson, who contrasts his Christian ministry, which uses volunteers to visit inmates, with the "extreme agenda" of the Wahhabbi Muslims, who do not utilize volunteers, but rely on imams. Colson says he has been in 600 prisons (counting the one in which he served time for Watergate crimes). He calls some of the anger of black inmates "legitimate" because of sentence disparity and the anger they feel at themselves. Radical clerics shape these angry men in a way that will threaten America's interests when they get out.
There are 2 million people in American prisons. Most are men and only 30 percent are white. "If only 5 percent of the African-American population is disaffected," says Colson, "that is an enormous pool from which the radicals can draw."
Inmates of whatever faith, or of no faith, are entitled to visits by lay or professional ministers. But Supreme Court rulings grant the prison system the right to determine who might undermine order and who best preserves it. Wardens in state prisons and officials in the Federal Bureau of Prisons should issue new guidelines and bar radical Islamists.
While the government is at it, a serious investigation should be conducted into the proliferation of Islamic front groups in this country. Influential American political activists are rumored to be taking money from Islamic states and seeking to shape U.S. foreign and domestic policies that may not be in the best interests of their own country. They should also be the focus of journalistic concern.
This is war, after all. German spies were hunted down and exposed during the Second World War, as were spies and other threats to American freedoms during the Cold War. We should be doing the same with this greater contemporary threat.
Syndicated columnist Cal Thomas can be reached at Tribune Media Services, 435 N. Michigan Ave. Ste. 1400, Chicago, IL 60611.