Prisoners Release Delayed for Possible Radicalization
In France, two prison inmates would have been all set for release in the coming weeks, except that police are now investigating them for planning terrorist activities.
Charles-Henri M., age 28, and Maxime O., age 22, are both male inmates who have been incarcerated at the Fresnes prison, a bit south of Paris, for non-terrorism related crimes. The former is originally from Cameroon, while the latter is a native Frenchman. Both were scheduled to be released by the end of October.
Investigators say that they began gathering information about the two from outside the prison in late 2016. Monitoring their cell phone conversations while in prison gave them further evidence that the pair were planning some sort of attack once they were released from prison.
In particular, they were plotting to use both gun attacks and hostage situations to their advantage. And they had preferred targets, too: police officers and prison wardens."
“There is no doubt that they were radicalized, and wanted to act, but they were still at the stage of financing their plans,” said a judiciary to the newspaper Le Monde.
Charles-Henri M., the leader of the two, is also said to have been in contact with other radicalized prisoners, as well as a terrorist active in the Iraq-Syrian region.
This newest case highlights the problem that France has been having in recent years concerning Islamic terrorism. All told, since 2015 a total of 240 people have died in attacks caused or inspired by the Islamic State jihadist group. As a result, controversial measures have been taken earlier this month to make it easier for police to monitor attacks and close mosques said to be preaching hate.
Radicalization within the prison system has been a particular problem, as these two suspects demonstrate. Fresnes is one of three French prisons that have created "anti-radicalization units" to help turn the tide against this trend.
“What was revealed last night (Monday) obviously highlights the urgency of the situation,” said French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet. “We are working very hard on gathering intelligence in prison by creating jobs. It is thanks to these techniques that we were able to see what was being prepared."
“When an inmate arrives, four months are spent assessing his level of danger. Once this has been done, he will either be placed in solitary confinement, or in a high-security area, or in a normal, individual cell."
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