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Homegrown: Islam in Prison

In the Film

Frederic Thaufeer al-Deen

Frederic Thaufeer al-Deen

Frederic Thaufeer al-Deen
Federal Bureau of Prisons, Former Supervisory Chaplain

Al-Deen has been a chaplain at the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Marion, Illinois and Leavenworth, Kansas penitentiaries. Building on those years of experiences, he is currently developing a Muslim Chaplain Certification Program at the East West University in Chicago. This new program is scheduled to begin in the Winter Quarter, 2008, and will train both men and women.  The certification program will address the need for qualified leaders to serve the needs of Muslims in hospitals, corporations, academia, veterans’ centers and nursing homes, as well as prisons.

Al-Deen has co-authored Questions of Faith for Muslim Inmates, a historic text about the radicalism of Muslims in prisons. Frederick has also been published in The Journal of Islamic Law and Culture and hosts a weekly program on Radio IslamOff-site link. His next project is a book on the issues of Muslim chaplains in state and federal prisons.

Al-Deen holds a masters degree in Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma (American Institutions and Processes, Political Science and Public Administration.) His undergraduate studies were in the areas of Secondary Education, French and Spanish. Al-Deen was born Frederick Keith in Charleston, South Carolina in the 1950s and converted to Islam in 1976.   

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Robert Dannin

Robert Dannin

Robert Dannin
Independent Researcher and Author

Dannin holds a doctorate in ethno-linguistics and anthropology from the School for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences in Paris. He was the director of Magnum Photos Inc. from 1985-90 and taught urban anthropology at New York University from 1993-2003.

Dannin is the author of the landmark book Black Pilgrimage to Islam, the culmination of fifteen years of study of the African-American relationship with Islam.  In this book, Dannin traces the evolution of the practice of Islam by blacks in the U.S. from slavery through the more orthodox, globalized Islam.

His latest scholarship focuses on the consequences of the September 11 attacks for American Muslims.

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Mikha’il DeVeaux

Mikha’il DeVeaux

Mikha’il DeVeaux
Citizens Against Recidivism, Queens, New York

DeVeaux is a grass-roots organizer and advocate on issues regarding incarceration, reentry, and civic responsibility for Muslims.

DeVeaux has published papers in New Directions in Evaluation: A Publication of the American Evaluation Association, The Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, and Crescent International.  He has presented papers at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Criminology and coauthored a paper presented at the Annual Conference of the American Public Health Association.

DeVeaux received a BA in Business Administration from Bernard M. Baruch College (CUNY), an MA in Professional Studies from the New York Theological Seminary, and an MA from the College at New Paltz (SUNY).  He is also a published poet.

He was released from prison in 2003 following 25 years of incarceration in New York State maximum-security prisons.  Currently, DeVeaux is vice president of Citizens Against RecidivisOff-site link and is also a data analyst for Philliber Research Associates.

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Steven Emerson

Steven Emerson

Steven Emerson
Investigative Project on Terrorism, Executive Director

Emerson is an internationally recognized expert on terrorism and national security, a correspondent, and an author. 

He now serves as the Executive Director of The Investigative Project on TerrorismOff-site link the nation's largest archival data and intelligence on Islamic and Middle Eastern terrorist groups.

Emerson started The Investigative Project on Terrorism in late 1995, following the broadcast of his documentary film, JIHAD IN AMERICA, on PBS. The film exposed video of clandestine operations of militant Islamic terrorist groups on American soil.  For the film, Emerson received numerous awards.

Over the past several years, Emerson has testified more than two dozen times before Congress, and he has briefed the National Security Council, the Justice Department, and other federal agencies. He appears frequently on MSNBC, Fox News and CNN. Emerson has authored or co-authored six books on topics related to terrorism.

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Craig Haney

Craig Haney

Craig Haney
University of California, Santa Cruz

Haney received his psychology Ph.D. and J.D. degrees from Stanford University in 1978. One of the principal researchers on the highly publicized “Stanford Prison Experiment” in 1971, he has been studying the psychological effects of living and working in actual prison environments since then.

His work has taken him to numerous maximum-security prisons across the United States and in several different countries where he has evaluated conditions of confinement and interviewed prisoners about the mental health and other consequences of incarceration.

Haney’s scholarly writing and empirical research have addressed a wide range of crime and punishment-related topics, including the background or risk factors associated with serious delinquent and criminal behavior, psychological mechanisms by which prisoners adjust to incarceration, and the adverse effects of prolonged imprisonment, especially under severe conditions of confinement.

Published widely on prison-related topics in a variety of scholarly journals, Haney’s work has been included in the American Psychologist, Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, and the Stanford Law Review.  His widely praised book, Reforming Punishment: Psychological Limits to the Pains of Imprisonment, was published by American Psychological Association Books in 2006.

Haney’s research, writing, and testimony have been cited in a number of judicial opinions that address the psychological consequences of incarceration and the system of death sentencing in the United States. He has testified in numerous conditions of confinement cases where the cruel and unusual aspects of prison life were at issue, has served as a consultant in many cases, and testified frequently as an expert mitigation witness in death penalty trials and capital habeas proceedings in numerous states. He has served as a consultant to various governmental agencies, including the Department of Justice, California Legislature, and various state and federal courts.

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Warith Deen Umar

Warith Deen Umar

Warith Deen Umar
New York State Department of Correctional Services, Retired Chaplain

Umar was one of the first two Muslims hired as full-time chaplains in the U.S. prison system in 1975. Under his leadership, the number of Muslim chaplains in New York State prison system grew to 56, the highest of any state in the country. This group of chaplains served a prison population that was between 15-20% Muslim. 

Umar retired with commendation after 25 years of service in 2000.  For the last 15 years of his service, he was the Ministerial Program Coordinator. Umar continued to volunteer in the prison system and speak out on issues affecting incarcerated Muslims.

Quoted in the Wall Street Journal in February, 2003, Umar ignited an uproar saying that the 9/11 hijackers should be honored as martyrs and that the U.S. risks further attacks because it oppresses Muslims around the world. The same day the story appeared, he was banned by then-governor George Pataki from entering any New York state prison, where he had been serving as a volunteer since his retirement.

The ripple effects of the controversy were felt far and wide, as chaplains appointed by Umar became suspect of radicalism.  Hearings were convened on Capitol Hill to investigate whether US prisons were being infiltrated by radical Muslim chaplains. Umar continues to maintain that his quotes were taken out of context, despite losing a libel suit against the Wall Street Journal and the article’s author.

In the fall of 2006, Umar was sentenced to one year under federal house arrest stemming from an unrelated charge.  His sentence was completed September 17, 2007.  Today he is lecturing and writing, with his next book out in December 2007. 

Umar’s first experience with the prison system was as an inmate at age 14.  In 1968, when he was 23, he returned to prison on a felony conspiracy charge.  After prison, he returned to school where he received a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and a Masters of Arts in Islamic Studies.  He converted to Islam in 1972.

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Levar Haney Washington

Levar Haney Washington

Levar Haney Washington
Accused of terrorist activities 

Levar Washington grew up in South Los Angeles with dreams of becoming a  rapper or a basketball star.  Raised by his grandmother after being abandoned by his mother at age 13, he ended up in a gang and then in the custody of the California Youth Authority.  Upon release from CYA, his criminal activity continued as did his time in prison.

Washington converted to Islam while serving three years in Corcoran State Prison on a robbery conviction. While serving a subsequent sentence at High Desert State Prison, he was determined “violent and incorrigible” and was assigned to the highest level of security.  Washington was at High Desert on September 11, 2001.

Jam’iyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheech  translates to Assembly of Authentic Islam and was shortened to JIS by law enforcement.

Kevin James, founder
(incarcerated)

Levar Haney Washington, JIS leader

Gregory Patterson, recruit

Hamad Samana, recruit

He reportedly met JIS founder and leader Kevin James while incarcerated at California State Prison at Sacramento.  It is alleged that he took an oath of allegiance to James in November 2004, shortly before being paroled. James is alleged to have given Washington instructions to prepare for and then execute a terrorist attack on Los Angeles.

After his release, Washington worshipped at the Inglewood mosque. He reportedly held very radical views, which were not embraced by the leaders or members of the mosque. It is believed that Washington met his two alleged accomplices, Gregory Patterson and Hamad Samana, at the Inglewood mosque.

In late May 2005, Washington, Patterson and Samana allegedly began a string of gas station robberies in and around Los Angeles. Initially, police made no connection between these robberies and any terrorist activities. On July 5, 2005, Washington and Patterson were arrested after Patterson dropped a cell phone at the scene of one of the crimes.  A subsequent search of their apartment turned up bulletproof vests and jihadi materials not readily available via the internet.   Also found were the addresses of National Guard facilities, two synagogues, the Israeli consulate, and the El Al Airlines ticket counter at the Los Angeles airport.

Washington, along with James, Patterson and Samana, were indicted on six federal counts in August 2005. The trial is scheduled to begin in February 2008.

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