Jailed terrorists spread hatred amid surge in illegal phones
The number of illicit cell phones found in high-security terrorist prisons has increased by 850% in seven years, The telegraph can disclose.
In 2013, 71 illegal mobiles were discovered in eight establishments that are home to the largest number of terrorist attackers in England and Wales. In 2019, 679 phones were found in the possession of prisoners.
During the seven-year period, a total of 2,496 illegal mobiles were confiscated from serious offenders in Category A domains, including HMP Belmarsh, HMP Frankland and HMP Whitemoor.
The Freedom of Information figures come after the Manchester Arena bombing investigation learned that attacker Salman Abedi was able to keep in regular contact with a terrorist in prison through a mobile phone illegal.
Abdalraouf Abdallah, a British Libyan convicted of helping others commit acts of terrorism, spoke to Abedi by phone from his prison cell at HMP Belmarsh in early 2017 when the bomb was in preparation.
Abedi killed 22 people on May 22, 2017, when he detonated a homemade bomb in the arena lobby after an Ariana Grande concert. Three months before the attack, prison authorities confiscated Abdallah’s phone and, when analyzed, found that he had made calls and attempted to call Abedi’s number. While Abdallah denied any involvement in the 2017 attack, the public inquiry lawyer said his relationship with Abedi was “of some significance in the run-up to the bombing, and we are determined to get to the bottom of this “.
Ian Acheson, a former prison warden, said the “very worrying” figures underscored that the UK had “narrowly avoided a terrorist propaganda catastrophe” from within the prison walls “more by luck than by strategy or by investment “.
“We know that very dangerous prisoners use illicit cell phones to network with other terrorists, mutually reinforce hateful ideologies and disseminate extremist material,” Acheson said.
“The challenge of overcoming and detecting moving signals got stuck in the ‘too hard’ box more than 50 years after we put a man on the moon.”
The prison with the most illegal phones was HMP Manchester, where 1,035 have been confiscated since 2013, followed by HMP Wandsworth (693) and HMP Belmarsh (243).
The cell phone confiscation figures apply to eight prisons in England and Wales which the Justice Department says hold the highest number of felons convicted of terrorist offenses since 2013. The Radical Preacher of Finsbury Park Abu Hamza Mosque.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said: “These figures do not show that the cell phones were in possession of terrorist attackers.”