"America's Extremists: Discovering Who Is Being Held Behind Bars"
I'm just going to put some quotes from the article here without comment:
Part of the information he shared with the audience came from a terrorism training manual found in the apartment of a suspected Al Queda member in Manchester, England in May of 2000. In it is information that directly addresses how to behave when being held in prison. For example, the manual tells them that when they come into the United States correctional system, to shave their beards off, photograph without it, and then grow it again afterward. This way, if they are going to plan their escape or get out, they can use the beard as part of their disguise.
Furthermore, the manual instructs that when being taken to court or when leaving the institution, to complain of mistreatment in the prison. In court, terrorist members should make allegations to the judge about the beatings they have suffered at the hands of correctional officers, torturing themselves if needed to present the adequate evidence.
'This is to show proof to a judge to get them to minimize the mandate of how they are being housed,' says Beckwith. 'It even says if you have questions as to who to accuse, ask brothers who were at that facility prior to you - they will share that information because they want those allegations to go against the same people in each area.'
Besides these allegations, Beckwith warns that staff should beware of attacks from these individuals as well. The manual has detailed outlines of how to carry out assassinations with different weapons and where on the body to strike.
A link to the methods given in the manual can be seen in the attack on a federal officer in November of 2000. At the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City, correctional officer Louis Pepe was stabbed in the eye with a homemade weapon made by Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, who was being held on the highest security floor. While the attack did not kill officer Pepe, it did leave him with severe vision loss and brain damage.
Not only should staff fear being attacked, but also being manipulated. The manual calls for 'brothers [to] pay attention to each other's needs and should help each other and unite vis a vis the prison officers.' While there is a different interpretation as to what this means, says Beckwith, he believes it is an indication that they want to target people who will aid them in their communication with correctional staff.
'We know for a fact that prison gang members have tried it and they've been successful for years and years,' he says. 'We have to be prepared to protect our staff. In many cases, when we are dealing with these international terrorists, a lot of prisons have put into place [policy] that no one can talk to these people with a rank lower than lieutenant - because with the rank of lieutenant, you have the training and background to understand what's actually happening.'
The Value of Communication
According to Beckwith, during numerous interviews with different gang members, he found that the only way to control a gang or any other criminal, is by cutting off their communication. In fact, he says, sometimes the public has misperceptions about how much inmates are able to communicate behind bars.
'There are a lot of people in the community who think we can [just cut off their communication] while they are in prison,' says Beckwith. 'They envision that if [these individuals] are locked up in these cells, that they don't get telephone calls, they don't get mail, and that they are not able to write [a letter to the outside]. They envision these things from us inside corrections, but any one of us that works in corrections knows that's not a reality.'
In fact, it often takes a court order to get this done. An example of this is Louis Fillipe, also known as King Blood, who was notorious for ordering gang activity behind bars, including the dismemberment of a rival gang member. A judge stepped in and ordered Fillipe to solitary confinement with no communication accept that approved by the court.
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'Do we have the capability to monitor these people and understand what they are saying, even when they are speaking another language?' said Beckwith. 'Do we have any staff that are trained? Do we have enough staff that are trained? The FBOP right now is looking at that very closely. Do we have enough Arabic-speaking people to monitor the 65 international terrorists within our custody right now? For every piece of mail or for every telephone call they make, do we have the staff [to understand what is being said], and if they do, can they read between the lines of the language?'
From using hidden messages on the Internet to code words, these groups will find a way to communicate, he says. Intelligence gathered by the United States Army, broke a code among telephone calls between an Italian-based Islamic group allegedly tied to Osama bin Laden and a London Muslim cleric where everyday words were being used to mean much more. Reference to 'turkey' or 'chicken' really meant a 'bomb', the prison was the 'town hall,' 'getting married ' was a way to talk about an escape and 'opening a shop or restaurant' really meant committing a terrorist act.
These groups will not only stop at verbal codes, but also trying to use written code in what seem to be normal correspondence. While writing one letter in normal ink, between the lines or elsewhere on the page will be code written in citric acid or urine, put to the paper by a toothpick or other devise. Beckwith advises correctional staff to look for the context of the letter to talk about 'hot' things -a barbecue or a lamp - instructing the reader to add heat to the letter to see the hidden writing.