SYDNEY • A radicalised prisoner allegedly carved an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) slogan into the forehead of a fellow inmate in Australia, reports said yesterday, but officials denied extremism was a problem in the jail system.
The 18-year-old, Bourhan Hraichie, has been charged with causing grievous bodily harm and intentional choking, following the incident after lockdown at the medium-security Kempsey prison north of Sydney last week.
He reportedly assaulted his cellmate, then used a razor blade to carve "e4e" into his forehead, an apparent reference to the ISIS group's "eye for an eye" mantra, before placing a towel on his face and pouring boiling water over him.
The cellmate, who was rushed to hospital with injuries to his head and burns to the face, was initially reported to be a former soldier, although officials later distanced themselves from the claim.
New South Wales Corrections Minister David Elliott told reporters he was outraged by the alleged attack and said he would ask "for a full and thorough investigation of the management of radicalised prisoners in the system, including the assault".
The manager of the facility has been suspended but the state's Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin denied radicalisation was a big problem.
"What we are dealing with is not a systemic issue," he told Sydney's Daily Telegraph. "Yes, we have a range of inmates who are clearly at risk of being radicalised, but we also have robust strategies."
Mr Steve McMahon, a spokesman for the Public Sector Association, which represents prison guards, told reporters that Hraichie should have been segregated.
Hraichie was reportedly not in jail for terror-related offences. The teenager, who has been transferred to a maximum-security prison, is due to face court next month.
Canberra raised its terror threat alert level to "high" in September 2014 over concerns about home-grown extremism. It has conducted a series of counter-terrorism raids over the past 18 months.