The possibility that the alleged New York bomb plotters converted to Islam in prison and adopted radical views could provide evidence of how the criminal-justice system can be fertile ground for terrorist recruitment.
Authorities said they believed all four men charged in the attack were Muslim and that some may have converted in prison. It isn't clear whether these conversions were linked to the radical views officials say they espoused while plotting to bomb two New York City synagogues and shoot down U.S. military planes.
The men were arrested Wednesday in a months-long undercover operation that ended with them allegedly placing what they thought were real explosives in front of the synagogues. The plot was monitored by federal authorities who provided the suspects with fake explosives. The men remain in custody and face federal conspiracy charges.
According to New York state corrections records, alleged ringleader James Cromitie and David Williams gave their religion as Muslim during their most recent prison sentences. Onta Williams listed his religion as Baptist and Laguerre Payen said he was Roman Catholic. Police believe two or more of the suspects converted to Islam while in prison.