German Prisons Face Surge in Islamist Inmates

"In the next few years we must expect a wave of extremists in our prisons."

The surge in the numbers of Islamist inmates is pushing the country’s prison system to its limits, German media reports claim. Last year, terror-related cases rose by five times compared to the year before, German authorities admit. Resulting convictions could radically alter the composition of the country’s prison population.

With violent Islamists filling up the prisons, German prison guards are increasingly worried about their personal safety. The growing “number of Islamist inmates posed an increased security risk for [the prison] staff,” reported the German newspaper Die Welt, citing the country’s prison officers’ association.

Islamist preachers have long been looking for converts and recruits among the inmates. Germany's domestic intelligence agency BfV had been observing jihadi recruitment inside the German prisons in recent years. The agency also recovered Islamist propaganda material circulating inside German prisons urging Muslims to recruit their fellow inmates.

German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported:

German jails are struggling to cope with scores of radical Islamist extremists. Their number is expected to grow following the opening of a slew of terror-related probes in recent months.

About 150 dangerous Islamists are being held in prisons across Germany, according to figures from the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) published by German daily Die Welt on Wednesday.

The men are either serving jail sentences or are in custody on terror-related charges, the paper cited the BKA as saying.

The newspaper said there were also several "relevant persons" being held, which it said were those regarded as sympathizers or supporters of radical Islam.

"In the next few years we must expect a wave of extremists in our prisons," the German state of Hesse's Minister of Justice, Eva Kühne-Hörmann (CDU), told the newspaper.

The revelations come just weeks after prison guards in France went on strike after a brutal attack carried out by an al Qaeda-linked Muslim convert who wounded three guards. "We no longer have the staff or clout to contain ultra-dangerous convicts," a senior French prison administrator said last month. According to media reports, French authorities recorded around 4,000 recent cases of violence toward guards, including 15 cases of hostage-taking.

The French government plans to build 15,000 new prison cells to deal with the country’s growing prison population. According to media reports published in 2015, around 70 percent of France’s prison population was Muslim. With a massive number of immigrants from Muslim and Arab countries continuing to enter Germany, similar trends are being witnessed there as well. In 2016, one third of prisoners in Germany were foreigners. This makes the German prison system an attractive recruiting ground for jihadi groups to raise the next generation of terrorists.

With Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Emmanuel Macron staying the course on the EU’s failed immigration policy of the past decades, the condition in European prisons is set to spiral out of control.