An ISIS-Inspired Murder and DOJ Coverup in the CMU—Part 3 of the CMU Series


Image Credits: art159 | Getty.

DOJ’s “Radicalize-and-Release Program” Drives Former U.S.-Army Soldier To Convert To Radical Islam

Martin Gottesfeld and Francis Schaeffer Cox | – March 1, 2020

PLEASE NOTE: The authors have made this series available at and under the latest Creative Commons by-attribution commercial-use-permitted share-alike no-derivatives license.

This is part 3. Click here to read Inside the Black Sites Where Obama, Clinton, and Holder Buried Their SecretsPart 1 of the CMU Series or click here to read How the IRS and DOJ Set Up Donald Reynolds Using Dubious Firearms Charges—Part 2 of the CMU Series.

Robert David Neal was dead and partially wrapped in a sheet on the floor before anyone got medical attention. The 68-year-old insurance expert was killed by a much younger former U.S.-Army soldier named Rodney Hamrick after Hamrick converted to radical Islam inside of the FCI Terre Haute communications management unit (CMU).

To some here in the FCI Terre Haute CMU, Neal and his friend, Richard Warren, were casualties of a religious dispute over alleged noise during a time of Muslim prayer—a noise dispute that started in a heavily-trafficked communal area of the unit and that seems to have quickly turned into a violent Jihad right inside the CMU itself.

For long-time political prisoner Francis Schaeffer Cox though, it was just the latest development in his now-8-year odyssey through what he calls the DOJ’s “radicalize-and-release program” for Jihadi fighters. This past March, Cox wrote:

Less than a year ago, the Muslims over at [the DOJ’s other CMU in] Marion [, Illinois,] tried to kill me for “evangelizing.” I narrowly escaped, and was transferred over here [,to the CMU at FCI Terre Haute, Indiana]. Then in November, the Muslims over here put a hit out on all the Christians in the unit. My good friend [Robert David Neal] was taken hostage, his hands were tied behind his back, he was stabbed in the heart, then his head was sawed off with a wire [garrote] while he was still alive. Getting his head all the way off was harder than expected, so once he was dead, the job was left unfinished and the next victim [,Richard Warren,] was attacked. He got stabbed 12 times before another Christian man [,Kurt Johnson,] could get to him and block the Jihadi. If we hadn’t circled the wagons and stopped the killing like we did, I’d have been next, along with two other friends of mine.

Why all this bloodshed? Because we sang some hymns. Because we wouldn’t convert to Islam. Because we were Christians. The chaplain wears body armor when he comes down here [to the CMU]. And I’m walking around in a T-shirt. This isn’t flag football, or summer camp, or Facebook. Not everyone comes home from this.

Do you know how many people I’ve seen convert to Islam in this [CMU]? Most of them! And it doesn’t matter if they are Christians, Jews, Catholics, secular, Odinist, or whatever. Almost everyone converts to Islam shortly after arriving here. Why? Because they don’t want to face the persecution. I’ve been here 7 years. I’m one of the few who has held fast.

Cox originally omitted the names of those involved from his message above, for fear of brutal retaliation by the DOJ and its subdivision, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP), which oversees the CMUs. There is an unwritten and unpublished rule that bars CMU inmates like Cox from using the names of their fellow inmates in their correspondence with the outside world.

In the end, the message above got out, but Cox appears to have paid dearly for it—far more than Hamrick did for murdering one person and attempting to murder another.

Many here feel that Hamrick, as a recent convert, carried out his attacks on Neal and Warren in order to prove himself to his new cohorts.

“If you don’t follow their beliefs to a T, then they’ll shun you,” said a Moorish-American CMU inmate who was accustomed to a more tolerant Islam.

“They take the Hadiths literally, and out of context,” he added, referring to the collection of sayings and customs of Muhammad and his companions. “They claim themselves to be scholars without any formal religious education, which will lead to more violence.”

Others feel that Hamrick did what he did in order to get transferred out of the CMU. He was moved after the incident and now resides Colorado supermax prison, USP Florence ADMAX.

Additionally, there are those here in the FCI Terre Haute CMU who believe Neal and Warren weren’t originally Hamrick’s intended targets. Rather, they say a correctional officer (CO) named Weber was marked for death as a higher priority, but that he unexpectedly took the day off after Hamrick had already performed his pre-attack religious rituals.

Weber, who isn’t known to hide his Christianity, is regarded as a “by-the-book” CO, which can, at times, engender hostility. Weber also isn’t known to be unfair or sadistic, however, and he has a reputation of applying his “by­the-book” standards evenly and to the benefit of inmates when policy dictates.

Kurt Johnson was recognized by the FBOP for his part saving Warren’s life. On January 4th, 2019, his inmate account was credited the sum of $51.20 by the Bureau as a reward for his selfless heroism.

“Now I know what a life is worth around here [in the CMU], I guess,” Johnson recently remarked.

When asked about what happened on that fateful November day, Johnson, who is a helpful man of few words (and a 6-foot-5-inch 220-pound former—semi-pro boxer), answered, “I heard Rich [Warren] yell, ‘help!’”

“When I came in [the cell], it looked like Rodney [Hamrick] was hitting him. I said, ‘That’s enough!’”

“He stopped and went to go ditch the knife, I think. I didn’t know that Neal was already dead. Things might have been different if I had.”

When asked if he was scared to go up against a former U.S.-Army soldier like Hamrick, Johnson replied, “That didn’t concern me. Rich was a good guy. I’m glad I saved his life.”

Richard Warren also ran the $100-million-per-transaction TAB, or The Associated Bond Market, based in Germany.

There are different TABs, according to Johnson, and each handles a different dollar value of transaction. Someone turned over control of the $100-million­per-transaction such market to Warren, he says.

“Everything about the TAB is for humanitarian purposes,” Johnson added. “They compete with the [International Monetary Fund (IMF)]. Rich is trying to help these [developing] countries, while the IMF, that’s another story.”

“Rich is a total boy scout,” agrees Cox, who was himself a long-time boy scout.

Kurt Johnson (left), Francis Schaeffer Cox (center), and Martin “MartyG” Gottesfeld (right), inside the cafeteria of the FCI Terre Haute CMU in Indiana. (Photo by unnamed/Public domain, 2019)

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), for the unfamiliar, is theoretically a multi-national development aid organization that provides financing to developing countries in exchange for agreements from them to reform economic and other aspects of their governments. It has become a lightning rod, however, for critics who question both its motives and its effects. Many feel the IMF really pursues the goals of its principal sponsors, including the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States. They accuse the IMF of predatory lending practices meant to subjugate whole nations while delivering up their natural resources, almost as if they were annexed by force.

According to Reynolds and others who knew Warren before he was transferred in the wake of Hamrick’s rampage, he alleged he was targeted by the DOJ after the CIA tried to use his bond market for an illicit transaction involving a Southeast Asian dictatorship. If so, he wouldn’t be the first person with a case involving the CIA to end up in one of the DOJs black-site communications management units. But perhaps those are other stories (like this one ).

Johnson, for his part, reports that he and his business partner, Dale Heineman, founded the Dorean Group in 2004 to help people secure their homes from predatory lenders. He says they helped about 2,000 people do exactly that in the years before the 2008 global financial crisis.

Things went wrong for him, he says, when he sued Wells Fargo and a group of other banks on behalf of clients who were in imminent danger of losing their homes. Somehow all 15 cases were assigned to U.S. District Court Judge William H. Alsup—even though federal cases are usually assigned randomly.

Alsup worked for a firm called Morrison & Foester before he was a judge, and it further turns out Morrison & Foester often represented Wells Fargo and other big banks, like J.P. Morgan Chase, in cases against their consumer clients in the Northern District of California (part of the federal Ninth Circuit).

U.S. District Court Judge William H. Alsup worked for the firm Morrison & Foester, LLP., prior to ruling in favor of the firms banking clients in the run up to the 2008 global financial crisis. (, Public domain)

Not only did Alsup dismiss the lawsuits that Johnson and Heineman filed against predatory lenders on behalf of everyday Americans in 2004, but he fined the attorney who represented the borrowers in federal court and referred Johnson and his partner to the DOJ for criminal prosecution. Ironically, perhaps, years before the 2008 crisis, Alsup accused Johnson and Heineman of peddling the bogus theory that the loans were issued using what Alsup dubbed “vapor money.”

Obviously though, if anybody was peddling “vapor money” in 2004, it seemed to be large financial institutions.

“They didn’t really issue loans with ‘vapor money,’” clarified Johnson, however, who steadfastly rebuts the “vapor money” theory. “There is no such thing as ‘vapor money.’ What they did was issue loans using vapor assets.”

In any event, Alsup wasn’t done.

Somehow, he got assigned to the criminal case the DOJ initiated against Johnson based on his own referral—even though, accordingto Johnson, another judge was first randomly assigned to it. Johnson’s subsequent effort to have Alsup removed from the case due to his role in its genesis was unsuccessful.

Johnson claims that during his trial, Alsup was clearly a political rather than a judicial figure, and that he wanted to silence the Dorean Group, which had exposed the banking industry’s fraud. Johnson feels that was partly because government-sponsored entities (GSEs), namely Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, were responsible for initiating the industry’s mortgage-fraud practices.

As one might expect, Johnson was found guilty.

Alsup sentenced him to 25 years.

“The federal courts almost never ruled in favor of borrowers before 2008. They were pretty much there to protect the banks,” says Johnson, who is now 14 years into his sentence. “If I had gone to trial a year later, things might have been different.”

Things also might have been different in November, 2018, if Neal’s warnings were heeded. He unsuccessfully tried to alert the DOJ that religious tension was brewing in the FCI Terre Haute CMU. But he was apparently ignored until his predictions came true.

On the night of Neal’s death, as COs removed his lifeless corpse from his cell and called out for medical personnel on the radio, Hamrick bragged from behind his cell door that it was too late for his first victim.

Neal’s body was left lying on the ground less than 10 feet away from Cox’s cell, where Cox could see him. Cox says Neal was only wrapped in a bed sheet later, to make it easier to move his body downstairs.

Immediately following the incident, the FCI Terre Haute CMU was locked down for weeks. Inmates rarely, if ever, left their cells during that time.

The FBI eventually arrived to investigate. The FBOP, however, largely obstructed that effort, fearful of what the outside investigators might find. And in a place where almost all conversations are recorded in high fidelity by an overlapping mesh of conspicuous microphones, there had likely been ample warning that an attack was being planned.

Yet the FBI apparently wasn’t able to review the relevant audio.

The FBOP is further said to have told the FBI that the video footage from that day was too dark to be useful, despite the array of expensive high-tech cameras canvassing the unit around the clock. Cox and many others find this claim doubtful based on their own experiences in the FCI Terre Haute CMU. It also seems decidedly convenient for those who may have wanted to end the FBI’s inquiry quickly and quietly.

The FBOP employs expensive high-tech cameras at many of its facilities, similar to these outside the Wal-Mart in Loveland, Colorado. (Ytscm_1b on Flicker, CC BY-SA 2.0)

The FBI, moreover, didn’t speak to many of the inmates here. And most of those interviewed were leery of speaking with agents for too long, because the FBOP was easily able to monitor the duration of each on-site interview as its staff marshaled the inmates to and from those meetings. In fact, some of the inmates report that they asked the FBI for rainchecks, citing exactly such concerns.

Later, the FBOP didn’t allow the CMU inmates to contact the FBI directly. The FBOP instead told them to relay information to the FBI through the FBOP’s staff on the CMU unit team. These instructions didn’t match what the agents said in person, and the CMU inmates found this to be very suspicious because it obviously meant the FBOP’s personnel would hear everything before the FBI. So, the FBOP would know who tried to say what, and also be able to exercise veto power over anything it didn’t want to reach the FBI’s investigators.

Powerless to contact the FBI on their own—especially from inside a CMU—the inmates were without options. To many of them, it felt like the FBI’s investigation never got off the ground.

Now, 8 months after Hamrick’s spree, the apparent de-facto Jihadi leader is still here in the FCI Terre Haute CMU.

The chaplain mentioned by Cox is no longer wearing body armor to perform his small Christian services in the CMU. But in addition to his Bible, he now sports a can of concentrated pepper spray, or “OC,” strapped to his hip like a sidearm.

Concentrated pepper spray, also known as “OC,” is not usually a tool in a pastor’s collection. (Adam Cohn on Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Richard Warren is no longer in the FCI Terre Haute CMU. He is both missed and fondly remembered by his friends here.

Cox and the other surviving Christians are still singing hymns—in their T-shirts—and without Neal’s guitar accompaniment. They are not loud—and they likely never were.

Johnson points out that under the relatively newly-passed First Step Act, Neal would soon be eligible for release if he were still alive.

Hamrick doesn’t appear to have faced many consequences. He was already serving a life sentence and it appears very unlikely federal prosecutors, who work for the DOJ, will seek the death penalty against anyone for murdering a CMU inmate.

Plus, for the DOJ, such a high-profile prosecution would almost certainly bring unwanted attention to the CMUs. Any resulting testimony would provide the public with insights into the realities of daily life here that the DOJ would likely find undesirable. So, even though President Trump would no doubt be happy to continue locking up John Walker Lindh, the recently-released former FCI Terre Haute CMU inmate—without a real investigation, there is no way to know if he was involved in a conspiracy to commit murder. Meanwhile, Obama-DOJ—holdover Hugh Hurwitz, seemed free to cover up for his subordinates at the CMUs.

Obama-DOJ—holdover Hugh J. Hurwitz, former head of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP) more than 2 years into the Trump administration, helped to keep a lid on likely Clinton-era and Obama-era scandals. Temporary BOP Director Kathleen Hawk Sawyer followed suit. Will Permanent Director Michael Carvajal prove different? (Bureau of Prisons, Public domain)

Political prisoners like Reynolds, Cox, and Johnson, meanwhile, face consequences inside the CMUs that would likely shock the conscience of reasonable outside observers. At times, they appear to disturb some of the unit’s own line staff and administrators too. This is especially true when CMU inmates try to relay news or instructions to their attorneys or other outside advocates in the hope they will, in turn, go to the courts, the media, or elected representatives for help or oversight.

Click here to read The DOJ’s “Torture Chamber” In Indiana—Part 4 of the CMU series.

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