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Al-Qaeda threat to British prisons
Jamie Doward and Anushka Asthana

Prison officers are struggling to control a group of al-Qaeda terrorists who are clashing with other serious offenders in one of Britain's high-security jails.

Frankland Prison, County Durham, holds an estimated 20 al-Qaeda members and sympathisers, serving long sentences for planning atrocities in the United Kingdom and abroad. They include Dhiren Barot, who was jailed for 30 years, and Omar Khyam, jailed for at least 20 years, for plotting to blow up the Bluewater shopping centre and the Ministry of Sound nightclub.

In recent weeks three disturbances have taken place at the prison. The Prison Officers Association (POA) said many of those involved had been moved to Frankland from Belmarsh Prison in London. 'They don't want to be in Frankland; they want to be in Belmarsh with their friends. They are getting more organised and want to be together in one place, which is scary,' said Steve Gough, vice-chairman of the POA.

Gough warned that the increasing regularity of the disturbances was becoming a serious problem. 'We are struggling to contain it,' he said. 'It's having an effect on other prisoners.'

Last month Khyam was alleged to have scalded another inmate, Malcolm Cruddas, an armed robber. Last year Barot received extensive burns after being attacked by one of the inmates. The charges against the alleged attacker were later dropped at the request of Barot himself.

Khyam's solicitor, Muddassar Arani, has gone so far as to warn that 'race riots' have erupted at the prison, which as a result has become 'an extremely dangerous environment for ethnic minority prisoners who now fear for their safety'.

Arani added that 99 per cent of the staff at Frankland are of white origin: 'This extreme imbalance across the board foments intolerance, racial hatred and white supremacist behaviour from a large percentage of inmates as well as some of the officers, too.'.....Article conts (-)

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