Federal Bureau of Prisons failing to monitor terrorist inmates despite the proven danger to the public

Source Document: https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2020/a20042.pdf#page=2

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) fails to monitor and prevent terrorist inmates in its custody from being further radicalized or communicating with terror suspects and terror cells throughout the world as required by the agency’s policies and procedures, according to an audit by the Justice Department Office of Inspector General.

Fundamental problems were found, including the bureau not bothering to identify the terrorist suspects in its custody. “We found that the BOP had not identified many of the terrorist inmates in its custody, and thus did not adequately monitor their communications,” the Inspector General wrote.

The policies management and employees ignore are the result of a 2006 Inspector General’s review in which inspectors found three international terrorists involved in the 1993 World-Trade-Center bombing wrote approximately 90 letters to Islamic extremists between 2002 and 2004 while incarcerated at Administrative Maximum Facility Florence in Colorado.

The Florence prisoners corresponded with the alleged terrorist leader of a plot to blow up the National Justice Building in Madrid, and a terror cell with to the March 11, 2006, commuter train attacks in Madrid. The train attacks killed 193 and injured more than 2,000.

Audits of federal departments commonly discover failures within those agencies. It is also common for federal agencies not to correct problems or agree to fix problems only to fail in following the new policies aimed at solving the problem. In this case, the failure seems especially troubling.

For example, terrorist Ahmad Khan Rahami shared prosecution provided information consisting of 20 Islamic recruiting videos and other radical documents with other prisoners without being detected. The U.S.Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) provided the material to Rahami’s defense team as part of the discovery process during his trial for the 2006 New York bombings that injured 33. The audit found that Rahami shared the information with several prisoners. “Although the BOP was provided with information indicating that several inmates had received this material, the BOP ultimately could only identify one inmate…”, the report states.

Bureau of Prisons locations reviewed for compliance with its terror inmate policies

After the 9/11 attacks, opportunities to stop the attack were missed because of a lack of communication between different federal agencies, mainly the FBI and CIA. That problem continues to exists according to this audit. The Inspector General found the bureau received no information on which prisoners had terrorist ties and was not using the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database to determine a prisoner’s relationship with terrorism. Instead, the bureau staff used the internet to search for public information on whether a prisoner had terror ties. Using public sources, the department claims it identifies 80 to 90 percent of the inmates who have ties to terror even if they are not charged with terror crimes. “For example, two individuals were recently being detained on charges of conspiring to commit money laundering and conspiring to deal in unlicensed firearms, ” the report states. “According to BOP officials, it identified both inmates’ nexus to terrorism through media reports that indicated that they had ties to Hezbollah, which was added to the Department of State’s Foreign Terrorist Organization list on October 8, 1997.

One of the identified “significant deficiencies was the Bureau’s failure to monitor 100% of the calls made by terrorist prisoners.

The communication failures occur with both when prisoners are sent to the bureau and when they are released from prison is not only when the prisoners are transferred into the facility.  The bureau does not always notify the FBI when a terror prisoner is being released even though such notification is required. “During our review, we found at least 40 inmates with a previously identified terrorism nexus that the BOP released without notifying the FBI, because, according to the BOP, it did not believe it had sufficient information to consider these 40 individuals to be terrorist inmates,” the report states.

The Bureau is required to monitor 100 percent of phone calls made by high-risk inmates and at least five percent of the calls made by non-high-risk prisoners, but personnel and equipment problems interfer with the effort, according to the report. Based on the findings of the audit, the Bureau monitors only 26.3 percent of the calls of high-risk and terrorist inmates.

The audit concludes with 19 specific recommendations with words like “develop”, “determine”, “establish”, “revisit”, “review”, “reassess”, “create”, “eliminate”, “work with”, “assess” and “explore”.

These audits do not include recommendation for consequences for not following procedures already established.