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TERRORISM DANGER Radicals may recruit felons, federal officials warn

Published: Sat, August 20, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.

Three men were charged in a plot that officials say originated in a prison.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Recent arrests have focused attention on a potential terrorism danger that federal officials have been warning about -- that inmates in state prison systems are particularly susceptible to radical Islamic ideology.

But prison officials across the nation say they so far have seen more potential for recruitment than real threats.

Federal officials have arrested three men in Southern California since early July in a plot that allegedly targeted National Guard facilities, the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles and several synagogues.

Authorities said they believe the plan originated among a shadowy group known as Jamiyyat Ul Islam Is Saheeh inside California State Prison, Sacramento.

Counterterrorism officials said the danger is not in the number of adherents to radical Islam but in the potential for small groups of dedicated believers to commit terrorist acts after they are released.

One example

They point to Jose Padilla, an American Muslim convert arrested in 2002 for allegedly planning a "dirty bomb" radiological attack after he left jail.

"Nothing I have suggests there is a widespread Al-Qaida recruitment movement within the prison system, but all you need is three or four to conduct an attack," said Gary Winuk, chief deputy director of the state Office of Homeland Security.


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