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Schumer Warns of Extremist Imams in NY Prisons • Friday June 27, 2003, June 27, 2003

(1010 WINS) (WASHINGTON) Sen. Charles Schumer testified before a Senate panel Thursday, warning that extremist imams are a dangerous influence in New York’s and the nation’s prison systems, and possibly the United States military.

Schumer spoke to a Senate judiciary subcommittee on terrorism during the first of several scheduled hearings into links between the Wahabi school of Islam and terrorist networks.

The committee heard from several witnesses, including a Treasury Department official who described connections between supposed charity groups and terror activities.

Schumer, D-N.Y., has argued the Wahabi sect is led by radical extremists fostering hate and violence against non-Muslims and non-Wahabi Muslims, like Shias and moderate Sunnis.

The issue of Wahabi influence in American prisons came to light after New York state prison authorities barred their former head Islamic chaplain from enterting the system earlier this year after a report in the Wall Street Journal quoted his unpublished memoir saying Muslims “secretly admire and applaud” the Sept. 11 hijackers.

As the former head chaplain, Warith Deen Umar had overseen hiring of other imams in the prison system.

“I am terribly worried that his minions may have exposed members of New York’s prison population to his extremist and toxic anti-American views,” Schumer said. “The point of prison is to rehabilitate violent prisoners. Instead, the Wahabi influence is inculcating them with the same kind of militant ideas that drove the 9/11 hijackers to kill thousands of Americans.”

Schumer said a similar problem exists in the federal prison system, and hard-line Wahabi chaplains may also be attempting to influence the “4,000 patriotic and valiant Muslim soldiers in the U.S. military.”

The senator accused leaders in Saudi Arabia of turning a blind eye to the fund-raising and indoctrination of would-be terrorists within their country and abroad.

But similar beliefs are already being promulgated in America, at least behind bars, the senator insisted.

“The imams flood the prisons with anti-American, pro- Osama) (bin Laden videos, literature and sermon tapes,” Schumer said. “They destroy literature sent to prisons by more moderate Shia and Sunni organizations, and prevent imams that follow these traditions from speaking to prisoners.”

During the hearing, an FBI administrator said the agency is currently conducting investigations in 40 states of al-Qaida or affiliated terror groups.

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