On Sunday The Daily Telegraph reported that the Brothers 4 Life gang leader, Bassam Hamzy, had been caught with a flash drive containing Islamic State material in his Supermax prison cell.
Hamzy was labelled by prison authorities as “extreme high-risk” after he orchestrated a series of extortions, murders, shootings, and kneecappings from behind bars.
Prison authorities told The Daily Telegraph that they were conducting a targeted search for a mobile phone when they discovered the USB. The USB had been approved by the prison and registered as material relating to Hamzy’s current trial, but prison officers flagged that they were concerned about its contents.
In 2011, Hamzy contacted ASIO and taunted them by claiming he knew the location of the Australian army rocket launchers that had been stolen from a military base almost 15 years ago. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, he told them, “If [ASIO] don’t believe me, they will see how these things are used.”
With the discovery of terrorist material in the cell of Hamzy, a self-proclaimed radical jihadist, the NSW parliament has swiftly introduced an amendment to the Criminal Procedures Act.
Before the discovery inmates were allowed access to USBs, and prison authorities were restricted from accessing these USBs if they contained evidence pertaining to the inmate’s case.
The new amendment, however, states that inmates will only be able to view the contents of a USB flash drive under the supervision of their legal representation. This mirrors laws in place for prisoners facing sexual offences, who are restricted from accessing “sensitive information” unless there is a lawyer present.
Inmates now run the risk of facing an added two-year jail sentence if they are caught in possession of extremist material. In a public statement last week, Counter Terrorism Minister David Elliott said that “having extremist material in a correctional centre inhibits efforts to deradicalise the person, and increases the risk of radicalisation of other inmates.”
Last year, The Australian reported that Goulburn prison is divided into four yards: a Muslim yard, an Islander yard, an Aboriginal yard, and an Asian yard. But the growing threat of radicalisation remains in the Supermax unit, nicknamed the Super Mosque, which segregates the warring, older Muslims in unit eight, who support the ideology of al-Qa’ida, from the younger generation of Muslims in unit nine, who romanticise the ruthless nature of the Islamic State.
NSW Commissioner Peter Severin acknowledged that the majority of inmates who are convicted of terrorism or awaiting terrorism related charges are housed in the Supermax, and told The Australian that, “outside the Supermax there is no widespread problem of radicalisation.”