Britain: Soft on Terror
Having secured a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ between Britain and Jordan, which agrees that he will not be tortured, the government believed that it would have little problem deporting Qatada, but the Court has argued that if a trial were held in that country witnesses against him might first be tortured – and thus it would not be a fair trial, and a clear breach of his human rights. The Home Office will undoubtedly appeal the verdict to the House of Lords, but Britain’s track record for detaining terrorists is not promising. Rights have come increasingly to trump that old fashioned notion of responsibility to the wider community, and judges in recent years seem to have transformed themselves into moral nursemaids, worried for the rights and safety of criminals, but not, it seems, their victims – potential or actual.
Last month it was revealed that two terrorists (one of which was caught with the blueprints for a rocket) were released from prison 17 days early for good behavior. The month before, five Asian-British men convicted for possessing extremist literature (including extracts of an Al-Qaeda manual) were released from prison after their sentences were quashed on appeal.
Last year a judge ordered two Libyan terror suspects freed, after the Home office had tried to deport them, and Samina Malik, the self-styled “lyrical terrorist”, was given a mere suspended sentence for possessing an Al-Qaeda encyclopedia of Jihad, the Mujahideen poison handbook, and several other works on weaponry and hand-to-hand combat (she had also expressed her admiration for Bin Laden, her enjoyment of watching videos of non-Muslims being massacred or beheaded, and possessed an airside security pass). The list goes on.
These and other terrorists who are free not only make a mockery of British law, apparently untouchable, they also serve as dangerously enigmatic symbols of their war on the West, its values, institutions, people, and history. Consequently if such Jihadis have an impact on impressionable and disgruntled Muslim youths (according to a 2006 Populus poll, 13 per cent of Britain’s Muslims consider the 7/07 London suicide bombers to be martyrs) they have also had a similar affect on some elements of the press, who appear to believe that they are simple free speech martyrs. Their crimes, the argument goes, are only thoughts. The Jihadi is – in this simplistic logic – turned into an intellectual challenging our ideas or trampling down the last remains of Western imperialism. One op-ed piece that appeared in The Times last year, for example, stated that to lock Malik up would be “an affront to society.“ We must have very different notions of society.