- Saudi-supported outreach program that sought to convert U.S. prison inmates to the Islamic faith
- Defunct since approximately 2010
Founded in 1993 by the American Muslim Council, the National Islamic Prison Foundation (NIPF) administered an outreach program whose purpose was to convert inmates in U.S. penal institutions to the Muslim faith. Heavily funded by Saudi Arabia, NIPF claimed credit for successfully converting approximately 135,000 prisoners to Islam each year. The NIPF instructors who were responsible for indoctrinating those inmates were mostly Saudi-trained clerics who preached the tenets of Wahhabism, an extremist form of Islam that is associated with passionately anti-Semitic and anti-Western worldviews.
According to its former president, Mahdi Bray, NIPF typically received more than 20,000 Qurans and other Islamic books from Arab nations each year. In turn, the Foundation distributed those publications to Muslim inmates in U.S. prisons. A very large number of the targeted recipients were African Americans.
The indoctrination of American inmates has long been a strategy described in al Qaeda training manuals, which explain that non-Muslim prisoners should be targeted for religious conversion because they are likely to be “disenchanted with their country’s policies.” Moreover, say the manuals, such converts can be invaluable to terrorist groups because they “combine a desire for ‘payback’ with an ability to blend easily into American culture.”
To help newly released Muslim ex-convicts make a smooth transition to life outside of prison, NIPF coordinated with mosques and Islamic centers across the United States to make shelter and food available to such individuals. Often, the Foundation also gave each ex-con a little bit of money, a suit of clothes, and a one-way bus or train ticket to their intended destination.
NIPF has been defunct since approximately 2010.
Further Reading: “A Look Into the Radicalization Process in U.S Prisons” (Ceifit.com); “Islam Targeting Black Inmates” (Buffalo News, 6-24-2002); “Radical Recruiting in America’s Prisons” (Jewish World Review, 6-20-2002); “Islamic State Finds Easy Recruits in Prisons” (Washington Times, 1-23-2017); Islam in American Prisons: Black Muslims’ Challenge to American Penology (by Hamid Reza Kusha, 2009, p. 213); Defeating Islamic Terrorism: An Alternative Strategy (by Patrick Bascio, 2007, p. 34); “New Twist on Jail Conversion” (Chicago Tribune, 11-20-2002); “Today’s Criminal Will Become Tomorrow’s Islamic Terrorist” (by C.T. Rossi, 7-1-2002); Race, Ethnicity, and Crime (by Dianne Williams, 2012, p. 151).