No Indication Yet of Initiatives Targeting Terrorist Recruitment in U.S. Prisons
By Louis Jacobson
St. Petersburg Times
Jan. 13, 2010
During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to “address the problem in our prisons, where the most disaffected and disconnected Americans are being explicitly targeted for conversion by al-Qaida and its ideological allies.”
Three specialists on terrorist recruitment — Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, the vice president of research at the conservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the author of two recent studies on homegrown terrorism and radicalization; Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor specializing in terrorism and a contributing editor with National Review Online; and J. Michael Waller, professor of international communication with the Institute of World Politics — told PolitiFact that they were unaware of any specific initiatives so far by the Obama administration.
In addition, searches using Google, Whitehouse.gov and Nexis failed to turn up any evidence that the direct subject of this promise — the fear that al-Qaida is recruiting within the general populations of American prisons — has advanced since Obama took office.
The president and members of his administration have often addressed the issue of al-Qaida recruitment, but they have typically focused on overseas recruitment. For instance, in his Jan. 7, 2010, remarks after the failed Christmas 2009 bombing of an airliner in Detroit, the president said:
“We know that the vast majority of Muslims reject al-Qaida. But it is clear that al-Qaida increasingly seeks to recruit individuals without known terrorist affiliations not just in the Middle East, but in Africa and other places, to do their bidding. That’s why I’ve directed my national security team to develop a strategy that addresses the unique challenges posed by lone recruits. And that’s why we must communicate clearly to Muslims around the world that al-Qaida offers nothing except a bankrupt vision of misery and death –- including the murder of fellow Muslims –- while the United States stands with those who seek justice and progress.”
Meanwhile, the president and his team have repeatedly cited one particular prison — the Guantanamo Bay detention facility — as an effective symbol for al-Qaida recruiters, and they have used that claim as the rationale for their efforts to close the facility. But the remarks have not specifically referred to the impact of Guantanamo on prison populations in the United States.
If we hear of any new initiatives on this subject, we’ll change our rating. But for now, we’ll rate this promise Stalled.
Barack Obama, remarks on strengthening intelligence and aviation security, Jan. 7, 2010
E-mail interview with Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Jan. 13, 2010
E-mail interview with Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor specializing in terrorism and a contributing editor with National Review Online, Jan. 13, 2010
E-mail interview with J. Michael Waller, professor of international communication with the Institute of World Politics, Jan. 13, 2010
Internet and Nexis searches that produced no results.
See the original article here.