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Hearing on the Threat of Muslim-American Radicalization in U.S. Prisons

Hearing on the Threat of Muslim-American Radicalization in U.S. Prisons

Thursday, June 16, 2011

On June 15, 2011, the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee held its second in a series of hearings related to radicalization and Muslim-Americans. This second hearing was entitled "The Threat of Muslim-American Radicalization in U.S. Prisons" and examined the degree to which U.S. prisons serve as fertile ground for recruiting Muslim Americans to engage in violent extremist activity against the United States.

Among the witnesses for this hearing was Bert Useem, professor of sociology at Purdue University and a START researcher. Dr. Useem was among 15 scholars who contributed to a joint report by START and the International Center for the Study of Radicalization (ICSR) on Prisons and Terrorism. This study reported findings from 15 countries on prisons as a breeding ground for radicalization, as well as on the potential of prisons as venue for de-radicalization efforts. Dr. Useem focused on the U.S. experience for this report.

This effort built upon prior work supported by START by Dr. Useem and Dr. Obie Clayton on terrorist recruitment in U.S. prisons. Their findings were reported in Criminology and Public Policy, where they argue that the probability of a successful terrorist plot being planned in a U.S. prison is modest at best. Dr. Useem's testimony is available here