WASHINGTON – Following an admission that it failed to complete a background check on a religious services contractor who had advocated violence against critics of Islamic extremism, the Bureau of Prisons told Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley that it’s performing an agency-wide audit of its religious services contractor policy.
The Bureau of Prisons disclosure came in its answers to a letter sent by Grassley earlier this year. Grassley wrote the Bureau after concerns were raised that individual inmates were vulnerable to recruitment of terrorist related activity, and subsequently how the Bureau is ensuring that its religious contractors are abiding by a standard set by the agency. The Bureau requires religious contractors to affirm that, “I do not endorse nor will I practice or use language in the institution that will support violence, terrorism, discriminate against other inmates or exclude other inmates from religious services based on race, color, religion, gender, or national origin.”
“Prisons are an inviting breeding ground for extremism,” Grassley said. “Both federal and state officials have voiced substantial concerns regarding the reach of radical Islamic groups within the prison system. It raises broader questions about the general quality of the background checks and other credentialing being performed by the Bureau of Prisons prior to hiring religious instructors.”
In its response to Grassley, the Bureau wrote that the file for Imam ElBayly showed that “he was interviewed by the local program manager/Chaplain and the Credentials of Religious Services Contractor form was completed. During the interview and reference phase of the process, there were no indications that Imam EIBayly held an extremist view of the Islamic faith. As such, his paperwork was forwarded for additional processing. Unfortunately, while Imam ElBayly did pass an NCIC (National Crime Information Center) check, our review of this case indicates the MBI (Moderate Risk Background Investigation) was not fully completed.”
The Bureau added that the agency, “is currently reexamining and updating the national training course for all Bureau Chaplains, contract specialists and human resource staff. This will help ensure proper vetting procedures are followed and emphasize the importance of checking references. In addition, the Bureau plans an agency-wide audit to ensure all institutions are complying with policy and guidance pertaining to the hiring of religious services contractors.”
A copy of the Bureau of Prison’s response can be found here. A copy of Grassley’s letter can be found here.