Islamist terror networks have made recruitment of disenfranchised individuals such as prison inmates a top priority, former New York State corrections official Dunleavy writes in his powerful new book. A 26-year veteran of the New York State Department of Correctional Services, he played a major role in Operation Hades, an investigation into radical Islamic recruiting activities involving New York prisons, a process going on for decades and, in some respects, abetted by government actions.
Dunleavy focuses on the case of Abdel Nasser Zaben, a West Bank native and Hamas member. Zaben illegally entered the United States in 1990, moved to Brooklyn and attended the al-Farouq mosque, home to Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, now serving a life sentence for his role in a 1995 terror plot. Zaben and an Islamist accomplice robbed people at gunpoint until Zaben was arrested in 1993 and sentenced to eighteen years in prison. Throughout his twelve years behind bars—he was paroled in 2005, deported to the West Bank and has subsequently disappeared—he worked tirelessly to recruit his fellow inmates for jihad. Zaben had a huge pool of potential terrorists to work with—some of them already radicalized Muslims.
According to Dunleavy, radical prison networks were already in place, established by ex-convicts like Warith Deen Umar, who served as director of Ministerial Services for the state corrections department, and Cyril Rashid, appointed by Umar as imam at a maximum-security prison in upstate New York. Inmates like Zaben became clerks for prison imams around the state, further cementing the radicalization process. Efforts to do background checks on Islamic clergy were hampered by the fact that the only certifying bodies seem to be run by Umar and like-minded individuals.
Despite the recent campaign of demonization launched against Rep. Peter King for his hearings on domestic radicalization in and outside prisons, The Fertile Soil of Jihad makes evident the clear and present danger.