Thursday, September 1, 2011

Canada’s imprisoned bomb-plotters say their isolation does not fit the crime

Five men convicted of distinct al-Qaeda-inspired bomb plots have ended up isolated in a single wing within Canada’s most punishing prison – a fate they say they don’t deserve.

The complaints from the inmates arise as federal authorities struggle with how to jail radical Islamists – whether to isolate them, what programs to craft for them and how to achieve the correctional system’s stated goal of rehabilitation.

Government officials say they have good reason for keeping such inmates away from the general prison population, fearing they may radicalize others. But the policy does produce an ironic result: The convicted terror plotters associate mostly with one another.

The issue is not large in terms of numbers. The five prisoners represent the bulk of the terrorism convicts sent to penitentiaries since Canada passed the Anti-Terrorism Act in 2001.

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