Inside the World of Terror Convicts —Who Aren't at Guantanamo

Many terrorists serving time at US federal prisons
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 11, 2011 4:46 PM CST
Guards walk along the fence at the super-maximum-security federal prison in Florence, Colorado.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Scores of convicted terrorists are serving time in US prisons that are far from the public eye—and public outcry—of Guantanamo Bay, the New York Times reports. Aggressive prosecutors nailed most of them after 9/11, often with a preemptive strategy that relied on informants to troll for terrorists. Officials found that holding them at US federal prisons was far cheaper than imprisonment at Gitmo. But "there’s a huge national debate about how dangerous these people are,” says a terrorism expert of the 362 convicts currently serving time. "Somebody ought to be studying this.”

The Bureau of Prisons won't allow a study, but the Times corresponded with convicts at prisons like the federal Supermax near Denver. Some say they bond with Muslim inmates, but complain that guards disrespect them and restrict their right of religious observance—which may further radicalize them. One former inmate says he enjoyed a "family atmosphere" with fellow Muslims who "were not lunatics. They wanted to be back with their families." For now, right or wrong, they are serving sentences averaging 15 years—which authorities say has helped prevent a replay of 9/11.

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