For most of the duration of Operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn (which replaced Iraqi Freedom on September 1, 2010), Camp Bucca in southern Iraq was the major facility for incarcerating terrorists, insurgents, and others detained as a result of military operations. Though the facility closed before U.S. forces departed Iraq, its legacy remains. Experts believe that the facility played a key role in the subsequent formation of the Islamic State; terrorism researchers at the Soufan Group propose that at least nine members of the Islamic State’s senior leadership spent time incarcerated at Camp Bucca.
The radicalization and conversion to violent extremism of inmates is nothing new. White supremacist and neo-Nazi groups have been radicalizing new members in U.S. prisons for at least two decades now, and in fact many authorities argue that these groups pose a more significant threat because of simple numbers: a former Department of Homeland Security analyst told the Washington Post that Islamic radicals in U.S. prisons probably numbered in the hundreds, compared to tens of thousands of right-wing extremists. The United Kingdom also experienced an unforeseen surge in radicalization when it began incarcerating large numbers of Irish Republican Army members during the 1970s.
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