James Murray, Daily Express (London), November 23, 2008
MUSLIM prisoners have launched a reign of terror inside a top security British jail.
The fanatics are forcing fellow inmates to convert to Islam or face punishment beatings.
One man who stood up to the thugs was branded with a lump of hot metal, according to a prison source.
The crisis at Whitemoor jail in Cambridgeshire has led to calls by staff for the 100 Muslim inmates there to be dispersed to other prisons round the country.
Some Al Qaeda supporters have set up a kangaroo court, sitting in judgment on prisoners and ordering punishments, the source said.
The violent disciples of Osama Bin Laden have targeted even the toughest non-Muslim prisoners, including killers and rapists.
Local Tory MP Malcolm Moss said: “They are a law unto themselves. The governor should sort these problems out.”
Mr Moss, who recently visited the jail with Prisons Minister David Hanson, added: “There is a fear in the prison about what Al Qaeda stands for and what they can do. There are threats made to people to make them convert and if they lapse it is even worse.
“It is not an easy situation for the prison officers working there. Either additional resources should be made available or better training.”
Brian Caton, general secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association, said: “We have been calling for the Muslim leaders to be dispersed to other jails. The service must step in to break up this gang culture with immediate effect.”
Concern over the way Whitemoor is being run surfaced last week when it was revealed an Al Qaeda terrorist had been training to be a stand-up comic.
Zia Ul Haq, 29, jailed for 18 years for planning a bombing campaign in London, signed up to an eight-day comedy workshop at the jail.
Justice Secretary Jack Straw stepped in on Friday to cancel the workshop, saying it was “totally unacceptable”.
IRA prisoners exploited a lax regime at the jail in the 1994 to attempt a mass breakout in which a prison officer was shot.
Last September staff gave an effective vote of no confidence in governor Steve Rodford. Their main complaint was a change to shift patterns but they also exp ressed concern about security.
Between April and October this year there have been nine serious assaults at the jail.
Governor Rodford said the claim that Muslim prisoners had become a law unto themselves was “entirely inaccurate”.
He added: “Robust monitoring of all prisoners takes place at Whitemoor irrespective of religion or affiliations.
“Whitemoor does have groups of prisoners who have formed themselves into gangs. It is clear that this gang culture is a reflection of issues that exist outside prisons.”
A Prison Service spokesman said: “There is no evidence to suggest prisoners are being branded or assaulted in an effort to radicalise them.”