An Islamic group in Sydney’s southwest has been paying the state’s most dangerous criminals to become Muslims under the belief they could hatch a prison outbreak.
Authorities said yesterday an outside network from Bankstown was paying the prisoners – some of them murderers and rapists – to convert to Islam.
Intercepted calls and messages indicated the 12 converted prisoners thought the outside contacts could help them escape Goulburn’s super max jail. The “Super Max Jihadists” have been organising for 18 months under ringleader Bassam Hamzy.
Speaking in Arabic and English, the gang holds regular meetings and talk about martyrdom.
The converted prisoners came to the attention of authorities when money was moved between their bank accounts and outside contacts.
Hamzy, jailed for 21 years for murder, has been separated from the gang and sent to Lithgow jail where he is in isolation.
Corrective Services Commissioner Ron Woodham said the prisoners would still be allowed to practise Islam.
“We have known for quite some time there has been conversion not only in super max but in other correctional facilities,” he said.
“It seemed innocent enough … we later realised they were more organised than we realised.”
Extreme high security
Hamzy, 28, has been declared extreme high security and will be allowed no outside contact as police conduct an investigation.
The other gang members have been ordered to speak only in English and have been banned from having visitors.
“Some of the people who have converted believe this outside network can assist them in an escape,” Mr Woodham said.
A rift in the super max facility has since broken out between the gang and anti-Islamic prisoners such as contract killer Lindsay Rose, who is trying to re-convert the inmates.
Backpacker murder Ivan Milat has not joined the gang.