Janet Fife-Yeomans, Daily Telegraph, September 22, 2014
Prison officers in riot gear have used tear gas to control maximum security inmates who tore apart Goulburn Jail in a racially fuelled riot described as the biggest in 10 years.
With shouts of “Allah Akbar”, prisoners armed with homemade weapons threatened guards and smashed through an internal fence at the state’s toughest jail, which was in lockdown yesterday.
Police investigations are continuing today.
Tensions have been running high in the prison system as federal and NSW police step up their surveillance of suspected terrorists and any of their associates inside and outside prisons after the country’s terror alert was raised to high.
A source has revealed how the violence began in the maximum wing of the Goulburn facility about 3pm on Saturday when a number of ringleaders refused to line up for afternoon muster.
The source said the unrest had begun as a result of some privileges being requested–and denied–for a handful of inmates, but the situation quickly turned into a full-scale riot along religious lines.
“They’d been knocked back something . . .,” the source said. “The issue wasn’t a Muslim-related issue, but it was the Muslim guys who got into it, yelling out to Allah.
“They were refusing to go into their cells. They refused to line up, then it went from there and exploded.”
The prison officers had “geared-up” as soon as they sensed trouble.
The riot did not involve convicted terrorists held in Goulburn’s Supermax, who remain under constant surveillance.
Those inmates include Mohamed Ali Elomar who is serving a 21-year sentence for his leadership in the 2005 Pendennis terror plot.
He is the uncle of former boxer Mohamed Elomar, one of the Australian jihadis currently fighting with the Islamic State in Syria. Mohamed Elomar is with Khaled Sharrouf, who had been jailed along with Ali Elomar over the 2005 plot and fled overseas last year when he was released from jail.
Following Saturday’s riots, seven ringleaders were segregated and four were seen by medical staff for minor injuries. Corrective Services NSW confirmed it had used chemicals on Saturday against inmates who caused damage but denied reports that it was religiously motivated.
“Inmate unrest began about 3pm yesterday after staff informed inmates in that yard that a good behaviour privilege was being withdrawn, due to earlier verbal abuse of correctional staff,” a spokesman said.
NSW Premier Mike Baird said: “I have every confidence in Corrective Services in keeping our community safe.