This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," August 25, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Experts have long been warning that terrorists are working hard to recruit in prisons. Radical Muslims are said to be using so-called religious material to spread their hateful message behind bars.
Joining us now is Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a terror analyst who researched these religious documents that are turning up in prisons.
Now, first of all, these are United States prisoners, most often citizens who have converted to Islam?
DAVEED GARTENSTEIN-ROSS, THE INVESTIGATIVE PROJECT: Not all of them are prisoners who converted to Islam. There are a number of Muslims who were born Muslim who also received literature in the prison, some of whom became radicalized while they were there. But there are definitely a substantial number of converts in the prison system.
GIBSON: Some of the messages that are being taught in prison we have on the screen. I will put one up for us for now, just to give the audience an idea of some of the things that are being taught:
"The last hour will not appear unless Muslims fight the Jews and kill them."
"Who fights to uphold the word of Allah is the one who really fights in the cause of Allah."
Now, do prison officials have any discretion in keeping this material from prisoners?
GARTENSTEIN-ROSS: Absolutely. The First Amendment doesn't apply within prisons to the same degree that it does outside the prison system, just like the Second Amendment doesn't apply to prisoners. You can't have a gun in prison. And prison officials in the past have had wide discretion to keep literature out of the prisons.
One reason that literature such as this hasn't been kept out is because a lot of prison officials just weren't aware of what was going on. They wouldn't read the literature. And one of the things that's widely believed is that chaplains, particularly at the state level, are sympathetic to this kind of message.
GIBSON: Well, so, what's happening? Are prisoners being recruited to radical Islam, same as people are being recruited in the madrassas in Pakistan?
GARTENSTEIN-ROSS: We know that there are prisoners who have been recruited. And some terrorists have been radicalized in prison. It's widely believed that Jose Padilla (search), although he converted before he was a prisoner, was actually radicalized while he was in prison. Richard Reid (search), also, the shoe-icide bomber, became a convert to Islam while he was in the prison system.
GIBSON: But do we have to seriously worry about guys actually serving their time, getting out, and coming and attacking their own country because they have been radicalized by Islam in U.S. prisons?
GARTENSTEIN-ROSS: Well, that's exactly what the current plot in California was all about. You know, authorities busted up a plot in which there were people planning to carry out attacks on...
GIBSON: At Folsom Prison.
And it was to carry out attacks on Jewish and military targets. It was hatched in a cell in Folsom State Prison (search). So, we have at least one example of where it entirely comes from the prison system. I think that, overall, we know that there is radical literature there. We know that there have been radical teachings, such as imams who have celebrated the 9/11 attacks and hailed bin Laden as a hero. So, it's something that we need to be concerned about, especially because prisoners are disaffected to begin with and thus more susceptible to a radical message.
GIBSON: Who is paying for this literature?
GARTENSTEIN-ROSS: This literature was funded by the Saudis.
GIBSON: We're talking about books, by the way, not just pieces of paper.
GARTENSTEIN-ROSS: Yes. These are books. They also actually had a number of pamphlets that went into the prison system. But Saudi Arabia funded the Al-Haramain Foundation (search), which distributed these books in the United States, to a fund, to a tune of many millions of dollars a year. They actually had offices in probably about 50 different countries at their peak.
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
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