Archive for iran attack
Inmates at HMP Whitemoor told researchers commissioned by the Ministry of Justice that they changed their faith for protection or because they were bullied into it.
Prison guards said they had a policy of “appeasement” towards the powerful and growing Islamic population, particularly convicted terrorists who were feared to be recruiting future extremists.
Non-believers avoided confrontation with any Muslim in case it led to retribution from the wider group, and said they even avoided cooking pork or bacon in communal kitchens or undressing in the showers in case it caused offence.
The report, written by researchers at the Cambridge Institute of Criminology, said: “Conflict and tension existed between and within faith groups.
“There were some intimidating ‘heavy players’ among the Muslim population, who appeared to be orchestrating prison power dynamics rather than propagating or following the faith. Many physically powerful prisoners ‘re-established their outside identities’ as leaders in the prison and used their (newly acquired) faith status as a tool for establishing influence.
Non-Muslim prisoners described wearing underpants in the showers on some spurs (out of ‘respect’ and fear) and some Muslim prisoners described a form of intimidation exerted (‘they probably do feel shamed’) relating to cooking (especially frying bacon) in the kitchens.”
HMP Whitemoor is situated in a “remote Fenland town” far from most inmates’ families, and is home to 440 Category A and B prisoners, almost all of whom are serving more than 10 years behind bars and seven of home are convicted terrorists.
Opened in 1991, three years later it was the scene of an escape by six prisoners including some IRA members.
Following concerns over Islamic radicalisation in a 2008 report by inspectors, researchers visited Whitemoor between 2009 and 2010 to interview staff and inmates.
They found that more than a third (35 to 39 per cent) of prisoners are now Muslims, compared with 11 per cent across all jails.
Many of those they spoke to had converted while inside but they had mixed motivations for doing so, and not all had done so voluntarily.
Reasons included “seeking care and protection”, “gang membership” and “coercion” as well as “rebellion” since Islam was seen as the “underdog”.
Prisoners told the researchers that becoming Muslim was a “cover” for power and influence.
Loners including sex offenders gained safety from joining a large and dominant group, as fellow members would defend them.
Non-Muslims and prison officers claimed that it was an “organised gang” and a “protection racket” rather than a religion, which “glorified terrorist behaviour and exploited the fear related to it”.
Others said they had felt under pressure to convert, with people leaving Islamic literature in their cells and telling them to “read this”, or promising they would be safe from physical assault if they changed faith.
“The threat of assaults motivated by religious fanaticism or extremist ideology added weight to the atmosphere at Whitemoor.”
Guards said there were “proper Al-Qaeda” members in the jail, who were regarded with “awe” by younger inmates, but they avoided confrontation and had “runners” to do their bidding.
Some prisoners described the place as a “recruiting drive for the Taliban” and fertile ground for hatred and a new generation of extremists.
One inmate said he was targeted because he wore a Remembrance Day poppy and his brother served in the Army, with people shouting “your wife’s burning in hell because she’s not a Muslim” at him.
But it was also claimed that non-Muslims felt “envy” at the preferential treatment, including better food, given to Muslims.
The report concluded: “The new population mix, including younger, more black and minority ethnic and mixed race, and high numbers of Muslim prisoners, was disrupting established hierarchies in the prison. Social relations among prisoners had become complex and less visible. Too much power flowed among some groups of prisoners, with some real risks of serious violence. There were high levels of fear in the prison. In particular, there were tensions and fears relating to ‘extremism’ and ‘radicalisation’.
“More prominent, in practice, were pressures (and temptations) felt by some prisoners to convert to Islam. Conditions in the prison made participation in Islamic practices the most ‘available’ option for those looking for belonging, meaning, ‘brotherhood’, trust and friendship.”
Last week a Newport taxi driver was jailed for 12 years after preying on two vulnerable female passengers.
NATALIE CROCKETT, MICHAEL YONG and AILSA CHALK talked to Gwent taxi firms and police about how to stay safe when using taxis alone.
Iqbal, 42, of Alice Street, wept in the dock as he was jailed for 12 years at Cardiff Crown Court by Judge David Wynn Morgan.
Judge Morgan said Iqbal, a licensed taxi driver in the city, abused the trust women place in taxi drivers “for the satisfaction of your sexual gratification”.
Following the sentencing, both of Iqbal’s victims said they were glad the case was over, but wanted to issue a warning to other women not to get into cabs on their own.
Newport Council’s outgoing community safety cabinet member William Routley said the council did background checks on all potential taxi drivers before issuing them licences.
He said: “We have a very good organisation in Newport taxi association and many good independent taxi operators. Look for the signs outside the cab for a licence. Use a regulated taxi firm, and use a licensed hackney cab.
Only use cabs which you can see clearly the Newport city logo on them, which they can understand and recognise.
“There are many ways to stay safe. If you can, travel in pairs.
Newport is not an unsafe place to be and taxis are still the safest way to travel here.
Andrew Barley, operations manager at Dragon Taxis in Newport, said the trade was united in its disbelief and anger at Iqbal’s actions, which had tainted a service the public rely on 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.
He said the firm had been inundated with calls from regular customers who travel alone at night, worried that drivers were free to do as they please when they pick them up. Mr Barley said: “I would say that the vast majority of taxi drivers are good, honest people who want nothing more than to earn a living.
“The people of Newport and Gwent should not be afraid to get a taxi, but should choose one of the reputable companies and prebook to guarantee that they are getting a service they can rely on and trust.”
Lionel Morris, chairman of Newport Taxi Drivers Association, said the case had damaged the reputation of taxi drivers. He said: “This should not stop people taking taxis. It might plant in their minds the possibility of this happening again, and they have a right to think that way. Newport, in general, is very safe. It has been years since something like this happened. I certainly cannot remember this in my time here.”
Malik Haseeb Ahsan, association secretary of Newport Taxi Drivers Association, said: “I am so ashamed of his (Iqbal’s) actions. As a taxi driver you don’t feel comfortable about it. It could happen anywhere to anyone, and it has damaged our industry.
People still need to use taxis though, but it will affect our business.”
Darren Anderson, manager of ABC taxis, said: “We have two female drivers in fleet. We normally get about five to six requests a month for them, if they personally request for them.
We’ve had no trouble from our drivers. If we have any suspicions with them, they will not be here, they would be out the door. We’re also licensed by the council.”
Alan Lakey, 58, owner of Dial-acar taxis, said: “Every taxi driver is police checked, and if they are doing schools, they have to do an enhanced police check. I think they should all be enhanced checked.
“Usually the drivers we employ are people who we know or somebody else knows. The police are very thorough with their background checks.”
Rachel Kent, 42, proprietor of City Lion taxis, said: “Quite a few women are more cautious now to make sure they are with somebody or get a taxi from a proper operator.
“We do background checks on our drivers, and most of our drivers have been with the company for quite a few years.”