By Senior producer, NBC News Investigative Unit
updated 4/3/2006 8:03:48 PM ET 2006-04-04T00:03:48

The Bureau of Prisons is proposing regulations that would limit mail, phone calls and visits for inmates charged with or convicted of terrorist activities. The proposed regulations, published in Monday's Federal Register, would give wardens at federal prisons much greater latitude to stop terrorists from communicating with terrorists and other jihadists around the globe.

The proposal follows a 2005 investigation by NBC News that revealed that terrorists convicted of the first World Trade Center attack in 1993 published articles praising Osama bin Laden and wrote letters that cheered on aspiring suicide bombers around the globe — all from their federal cellblocks.

The proposed regulations state: "Past behaviors of terrorist inmates provide sufficient grounds to suggest a substantial risk that they may inspire or incite terrorist-related activity, especially if communicated to groups willing to become martyrs, or to provide equipment or logistics to carry out terrorist-related activities."

And: "Communication related to terrorist-related activity can occur in codes which are difficult to detect and extremely time-consuming to interpret. Inmates involved in such communication, and other persons involved or linked to terrorist-related activities, take on an exalted status with other like-minded individuals. Their communications acquire a special level of inspirational significance for those who are already predisposed to these views, causing a substantial risk that such recipients of their communications will be incited to unlawful terrorist-related activity."

Under the new rules, the Bureau of Prisons will more closely monitor phone calls and mail: "Written correspondence may be limited to three pieces of paper, double-sided, once per week to and from a single recipient; telephone communication may be limited to a single completed call per calendar month for up to 15 minutes; and visiting may be limited to one hour each calendar month."

Previously, prison wardens did not have the power to block convicted terrorists from sending mail all over the world, in Arabic and other languages that required translation. Now, according to the Federal Register, wardens can devise their own plans to monitor or limit all such "communication opportunities," in some cases without input from the FBI or a federal prosecutor.

The proposed regulations are open for public comment before going into effect. Comments are due by June 2.

NBC News called the Bureau of Prisons and is awaiting a response.


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