Soon after I arrived in Belmarsh in 2014, news came through that Mosul in Iraq had fallen to Islamic State and the prison erupted. There were chants of "Allahu Akbar", wild banging on the doors and joyous shouting of "we are going to take over" throughout the wing. It was like a big party that went on unchecked for several hours.
I was devastated because I watched how prison officers seemingly took no action, leaving new inmates like myself with the impression that the real people in charge were not the warders, but a terrifying group of radical Islamists known as "the Brothers" or "the Akhi", which is Arabic for brother.
We had around 200 people on our wing, about half of them Muslim, but there was a hard core of 20 "brothers" in for terrorism or terror-related offences who were very popular and had enormous influence. They were treated like celebrities by the other inmates and included the guy who in 2007 tried to blow up Glasgow airport.