Nail Bomber Who Wanted to Start ‘Racial War’ Converts to Islam in Prison

WREXHAM, WALES - MARCH 15: A prison guard walks through a cell area at HMP Berwyn on March 15, 2017 in Wrexham, Wales. The mainly category C prison is one of the biggest jails in Europe capable of housing around to 2,100 inmates. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

A jailed far-right nail bomber who had said he wanted to start a “racial war” has allegedly converted to Islam in prison, reportedly asking to be called “Saddam” in admiration of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

David Copeland, 44, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2000 and must serve at least 50 years for his 13-day nail-bombing campaign in 1999, during which in three separate attacks he targetted London’s Bangladeshi, black, and LGBT communities. In total, his devices injured 139 people, and his final bomb, planted at the Admiral Duncan gay bar, killed three people including a pregnant woman.

Fellow former inmate Andy Ross, who has since completed his sentence for armed robbery, told The Sun on Monday that Copeland, who had said he wanted to “set fire to the country and stir up a racial war”, had converted to Islam in the hopes of being “re-born in a different body after death”.

He also allegedly told other prisoners at Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) Frankland that he wanted to be called “Saddam”.

“Copeland prays every day and sees practising as a Muslim as a way of getting forgiveness and changing. But he still has a twisted mind,” Mr Ross told the newspaper.

Copeland was also sentenced in 2015 for the brutal attack on another prisoner using a shiv, specifically a toothbrush modified with razer blades, while serving time at HMP Belmarsh in London.

He is now residing at the high-security Frankland prison in Durham, a jail home to other high-profile prisoners, including Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe until his death from coronavirus in November.

The prison had also hosted Islamist terrorist Michael Adebolajo, who along with Michael Adebowale murdered and attempted to behead Fusilier Lee Rigby near Woolwich barracks in May 2014.

Just three years later, sources at Frankland claimed that Adebolajo had groomed other inmates who then converted to Islam and were radicalised under the terrorist’s influence, some swearing allegiance to Islamic State and pledging to commit attacks upon release.

Frankland was also the first prison to have a purpose-build extremists’ unit, to keep Islamists away from the regular prison population and stop them from attracting recruits.

A Ministry of Justice 2019 report revealed that Muslim prison gangs were forcibly converting non-Muslim inmates under the threat of violence. A Christian chaplain claimed the year before that some convert for protection.

While a 2015 Prison Officer’s Association report claimed non-Muslim inmates were being forced to pay a “protection” tax, or “jizya”, if they did not convert.

However, prison officers have claimed some inmates have become “convenience Muslims to play the system”, including to gain access to better food.

Despite three ‘jihadi jails’ opening in recent years, only one — Frankland — remains open, meaning that just three per cent of Islamist extremists have been isolated to stop them influencing or threatening other prisoners.

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