A prison gang calling itself the “brotherhood” is trying “to enforce its version of Islamic law on all prisoners regardless of faith” in the United Kingdom, according to a government study.
The Ministry of Justice analysis, “Exploring the Nature of Muslim Groups and Related Gang Activity in Three High Security Prisons: Findings from Qualitative Research,” found “the main prisoner group to be a large, diverse group of prisoners who connected through a shared Muslim faith.”
Respondents in the study “were questioned on the presence of other prisoner groups but none [was] considered to be as dominant or significant when compared to the Muslim group.”
Members of the gang, the report said, are “offered many supportive benefits including friendship, support and religious familiarity.”
And the gang has “clearly defined membership roles including leaders, recruiters, enforcers, followers and foot-soldiers.”
The report said “violence, bullying and intimidation were prevalent with the gang, using religion as an excuse to victimize others.”
“The gang was perceived to be responsible for the circulation of the majority of the contraband goods in the establishments,” the government said.
“Motivations for joining the gang were varied but centered on criminality, safety, fear, protection and power.”
The Investigation Project on Terrorism commented that while the group “doesn’t appear connected to the Egyptian Islamist movement, it does try to enforce its version of Islamic law on all prisoners regardless of faith.”
“Rules cover personal hygiene and what inmates are allowed to eat in their cell block. Some inmates may be forced to pay a tax to the Muslim brotherhood.”
IPT noted that in fundamentalist Islam, non-believers pay a tax known as “jizya.”
The study looked at responses from 83 inmates and 73 prison staff members from several prisons.
“The researchers acknowledge that some members of the Muslim gang they interviewed may have been instructed to mask the gang’s nature and minimize its influence in the general prison population,” IPT said. “Obedience is achieved by violence and intimidation carried out by members of the group known as enforcers.”
IPT said the study “described the leaders as manipulative, dominating, and outspoken and yet found they were able to portray themselves to prison staff as compliant and polite. In other words, ‘jail wise.'”
“The leadership expanded from a single cell block, to a particular prison, and to the prison system as a whole. Muslim gang leaders were able to communicate from prison to prison even so far as to order a hit on an inmate who had transferred to a different facility,” IPT reported.
“Since Muslims account for only 15 percent of the overall UK prison population, one might reasonably wonder how so small a group was able to dominate. Should authorities have seen this coming?” IPT said. “Research (historical reports) shows they should have.”
In the U.S., a study done jointly by the CIA, NSA, Defense and State departments after 9/11 found that terrorist groups such as al-Qaida did not see prison as an obstacle, IPT said.
“Quite the opposite, they viewed it as an opportunity to organize and expand.”
The U.K. study recommended the use of “mentors from similar backgrounds to the prisoners,” and increased training for staff in Islamic culture as a means of decreasing the radical Muslim gang’s influence, IPT said.
The study said Islam “can be particularly appealing to some prisoners because the religious practices and self-discipline required to follow the faith offer a positive framework around which they can structure their lives.”