UK: Prison officers ‘powerless against Islamic converts’

Jordan Horner has taken the ­Islamic name Jamaal Uddin

A Muslim convert jailed for trying to impose Sharia on the streets of London claims that he converted prisoners to Islam while he was behind bars.

In a television interview he alleges that prison officers stood by powerless as he welcomed his fellow inmates to Islam while he was serving a sentence for assault and using threatening words and behaviour.

Jordan Horner, who has taken the Islamic name Jamaal Uddin, says: “The prison officers witnessed people become Muslim and in front of them I was giving them what we call Shahada, an invitation and acceptance of Islam.”

He adds on the BBC Panorama progamme tonight: “They was becoming Muslim in front of the prison officers and they felt sort of powerless. They said I was trying to divide Muslims from non-Muslims, trying to get them to follow an extreme version of Islam.”

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Horner says that during less than a year in jail, he was moved three times as prison bosses tried to disrupt his activities on the wings.

Michael Coe, also a convert to Islam, is seen on the programme being met on his release from prison by two convicted Islamic extremists. Mr Coe, whose Islamic name is Mikaeel Ibrahim, said he converted to Islam while in jail after deciding it was “the way forward”.

He was invited to take the faith by Dhiren Barot, himself a Muslim convert serving a minimum of 30 years in prison after admitting a plot to bomb New York landmarks.

The number of Muslims in prisons in England and Wales has doubled in a decade to 11,600 including about 100 al-Qaeda inspired Islamist extremists. Part of the increase reflects that half the Muslim population is under 25 and younger people are more likely to commit crime. In some prisons, including top-security jails, more than one in five of the population is Muslim.

Michael Spurr, chief executive of the National Offender Management Service, described the threat of Islamic radicalisation in prisons as significant.

He said: “There is a significant risk, given the fact that we manage some very dangerous people. Our job is to minimise that risk becoming a reality — that somebody in prison becomes radicalised and commits a terrorist offence.”

He warned that there could be a “whole range of different potential scenarios [where] people could be hurt” if the offender management service failed in its job to protect the public from extremists.

Mr Spurr echoed concerns raised by the Prison Officers Association (POA), which last month said that a surge in the number of “convenience Muslims” was fuelling the threat of unrest from gangs of radical extremists in Britain’s prisons.

Steve Gillan, head of the association, said that prison staff faced a daily threat from groups of Islamists. However, he said that some prisoners may be converting to the faith for specific perks, such as better food, more time outside cells for Muslim prayers, and because some felt it was better to have a cult status and belong to a particular gang.

There is evidence that some Muslim converts revert to their original faith, or to having no faith at all, once they leave prison, according to the POA.

It has also said that it is important that “all forms of extremism”, whether from right-wing groups or religious extremists, are kept closely in check, saying that imams have often been very good at countering attempts to radicalise inmates by spotting those with extremist views. There are 65 full-time imams, 50 part time and 118 sessional imams working in jails.