FBI launches probe of US prison for terrorism threats

FBI ordered nation wide agents to conduct "threat assessments" of inmates who might have become radicalized in prison and could commit extremist violence upon their release, according to an FBI letter obtained by The Associated Press.

"The primary goal of these efforts is to assess and disrupt the recruitment and conversion of inmates to radicalized ideologies which advocate violence," according to a letter from the acting assistant chief of the FBI's Los Angeles office, Randy D. Parsons.

The agency has been concerned since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that groups with extremist ideologies may be targeting felons as prime candidates for conversion during their time in prison.

The FBI has worked with prison officials to identify potentially disruptive groups for "some time," according to the letter. "However, recent investigations have identified a clear need to increase the FBI's focus and commitment in this area," Parsons wrote in the letter, which was dated Friday and obtained Tuesday by the AP.

FBI director Robert Mueller warned the Senate Intelligence Committee in February that prisons are "fertile ground for extremists."

"The FBI will be going into each institution and assessing each population," said Todd Slosek, spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

He expects the FBI to examine the department's information on all "disruptive groups," including prison gangs and Islamic organizations.

That shouldn't interfere with inmate religious practices, free speech or other rights, Parsons wrote in the letter, informs Washington Post.

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