High-risk inmates in an Australian maximum security prison will be prohibited from communicating in Arabic during visits and phone calls, according to an edict from the attorney-general – the latest in Australia’s crackdown on Islamic terrorism.
The new regulation at the Goulburn facility in New South Wales
will take effect on Sunday, with some 13 inmates having to switch
to English, as well as using the language for writing outgoing
communications, News Corp Australia reports.
Security guards will allegedly stand within earshot of all
conversations and record them as well. If the rules aren’t
observed, they will be within their right to eject any visitors.
The inmates are all classified as ‘Extreme High Risk Restricted’
and are monitored 24/7.
State Attorney General Brad Hazzard, who ordered the restrictions
in response to the heightened terror climate, said that a recent
operational review had revealed holes in the security system.
“One of the issues that came out of that process was that
some of these people, these high-risk inmates, were conducting
their discussions in Arabic, or at least not English,” he
said, as cited by News Corp Australia, adding that this
“clearly needed looking at and action, in my view.”
The official also said further steps must be taken to curb
radicalization inside the facility, such as hiring more moderate
imams to work behind bars. The measure will be geared primarily
to new converts to Islam and to keeping moderate ones in check.
Hazzard voiced his
concerns about the imams earlier, saying the hiring must take
place “as enrgetically as
possible” and must
include preachers who display “moderation and
present at a meeting of Corrective Service officers last month
said the new services would likewise be in English – not
Staff in the New South Wales prison have been told in the past
that they could decide at their discretion whether a particular
inmate is allowed to speak their mother tongue, provided a
translator is present and the circumstances demand it e.g. an
elderly relative who only speaks Arabic.
“We don’t want to create a situation where they feel there’s
no sense of humanity, because there will be,” Hazzard also
“But they have to understand the people they’re visiting have
put our community at risk. There has to be some clear boundaries
Recent months have reportedly seen a rise in inmates asking their
diet to be changed from a Western one to halal meals, an
indicator that more people are converting to Islam at Australia’s
maximum security facilities.
Some nine to 10 percent of all inmates in the New South Wales
region are Muslim, although Muslims constitute less than three
percent of the general population, according to News Corp
September was marked by the passing of tough anti-terror laws,
which included the senate granting the national intelligence
agency the right to spy on any citizen with just a warrant. The
measures were taken in three stages, with new more
terrorism-oriented introductions in October and later, in
February, with the introduction of the Telecommunications
Amendment that increased the government’s surveillance powers
On September 12, Australia raised its terror alert to the second
highest level in response to recent violent events in the Middle
East connected with the beheadings of American journalists James
Foley and Steven Sotloff, and British aid worker David Haines.
The introduction of the laws was accompanied by intelligence
warnings that an imminent attack was to take place. One of the
largest police operations in Australian history involved 800
officers in Sydney and Brisbane, performing raids on suspects
with purported ties to the so-called Islamic State (IS, formerly
The group earlier threatened to behead Australians at random.
The terror is homegrown as well. In late September, Prime
Minister Tony Abbott reported the figures, with some 60
Australians fighting alongside IS militants in Syria and Iraq,
while about a hundred known sympathizers were walking the streets
back home in Australia.