- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 13, 2016

The U.K.’s government is seriously considering placing all convicted Islamist terrorist prisoners in the country in a single secure super jail, but the idea is raising red flags among counterterrorism experts.

The “British Alcatraz” would overturn 50 years of dispersing dangerous prisoners in the system and is expected to be backed by a review set up by the justice secretary, Michael Grove, to examine how the 130 convicted jihadi terrorists are dealt with behind bars, The Guardian reported.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister David Cameron hinted at the idea during a speech on prison reform, saying he was ready to consider major changes in the location of convicted terrorist prisoners to prevent them from recruiting even more convicts within the prisons who are at a higher risk of radicalization.

We will not stand by and watch people being radicalised like this while they are in the care of the state. … And I want to be clear — I am prepared to consider major changes: from the imams we allow to preach in prison to changing the locations and methods for dealing with prisoners convicted of terrorism offences, if that is what is required,” Mr. Cameron said, according to The Guardian.

However, counterterrorism experts worry that bringing all convicted Islamist terrorists together in one facility could create a focal point for public protests.

“The trade-off is this: You want to separate terrorist prisoners in order to prevent them from radicalizing others, yet you don’t want to create a focal point for public protests — a ‘British Guantanamo,’ however much of a misrepresentation that might be — or provide an opportunity for terrorist prisoners to create (or recreate) operational command structures inside prison that might not have existed outside,” Peter Neumann, director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence, told The Guardian. 

Mr. Neumann also warned that such a facility could provide an opportunity to create “an operational command and control structure,” for the Islamic State in Britain that currently does not exist inside or outside the prison system.

“The second point is now more important than ever,” Mr. Neumann said. “With large numbers of ‘lone operators’ who may not be particularly ideological and who have failed to join the command and control structures of groups like IS, the risk of them connecting with ideological and operational leaders while imprisoned is real. In other words, a policy of concentration may inadvertently help to create the kind of hierarchical organisation that the terrorists found it impossible to create outside.”



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