Al-Qaeda Terrorists in U.S. Prisons? They’re Already Here

Sunday, May 24, 2009
SuperMax prison, Florence CO

If President Barack Obama is really intent on closing down Guantanamo Bay and overcoming fierce congressional opposition to housing these detainees on U.S. soil, he should repeat three simple words at every opportunity: They’re already here. Somehow, this important fact has been lost amid the shrieking both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have been doing over Obama’s proposal to move Guantánamo’s terrorist suspects to federal maximum-security prisons.

According to the Justice Department, 216 international terrorists are currently being held in federal prisons, as well as 139 domestic terrorists. In Florence, CO, more than 30 convicted terrorists, many with connections to al Qaeda, have been held prisoner at the U.S. government’s super-max facility without any jail breaks or other problems. These prisoners include Ramzi Yousef, who led the truck bombing of the World Trade Center back in 1993; Zacarias Moussaoui, convicted of conspiring in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks; Ahmed Ressam, part of the attacks planned for Los Angeles airport in 1999; Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, who conspired, among other plots, to kill President George W. Bush; Richard Reid, the shoe bomber; and Wadih el-Hage, who helped bomb the U.S. Embassy in Kenya in 1998. Also at Florence are Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols.
The prison in Florence isn’t the only one guarding convicted terrorists. So is the one at Fort Leavenworth, KS. At both prisons the inmates rarely see other prisoners. Leavenworth only allows the convicted terrorists out of their cells for one hour a day, while being guarded by a three-member team of correctional officers. Officials at the Federal Bureau of Prisons have said they monitor those inmates who might try to spread extremist ideologies.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Supermax Prisons in U.S. Already Hold Terrorists (by Carrie Johnson and Walter Pincus, Washington Post)
In Area Packed With Prisons, a Split on Jihadists (by Kirk Johnson, New York Times)


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