In response to Kathy Gyngell: Should terrorists EVER go free?
Terrorists are at war with us. They observe no rules. They wear no uniforms. They take no prisoners. They make no distinction between civilian and military, since, in their ideology, there is none.
If they are lucky enough not to be killed before capture, they should consider themselves lucky. They do not deserve the status of POWs. If, however, they are accorded that status, they must be detained until the end of hostilities.
Since they are adamant that no peace with us is possible before our abject submission, letting them go early, at the behest of a Guardian-friendly occupant of the bench like Lord Leveson, is crazy.
Apparently he was regarded as a model convict, who engaged willingly with the Government’s Prevent and Desistance and Disengagement programmes, intended to deradicalise extremists.
We can never trust these people, they know how to play the system. We can never ‘de-radicalise’ them because that would mean them giving up their most fundamental beliefs. They should never be released, we need our own Guantanamo Bay.
Theresa May said ‘enough is enough’ after the Manchester bombing – what action was taken? I won’t be holding my breath for Johnson and Priti Patel to actually do something to keep us safe.
Usman Khan had originally been serving an indeterminate sentence for the protection of the public. These have been declared ‘arbitrary and unlawful’ by the ECHR.
If any members of the ECHR travel to Britain perhaps they could be arrested and charged with aiding and abetting terrorism.
Khan’s is a hard case to unpack. He was a full British national by birth but wasn’t British in any way. He belonged to an alien religion which has no history in Britain and is hostile to much of what Britishness means. His ideology was terroristic but he hadn’t committed a terrorist act until this week (he was jailed for planning terrorism).
Despite our knowing all this, the pretence was that he was as British as any John Smith and enjoyed exactly the same rights as everyone else.
We ourselves belong to a religion which believes every man is redeemable, however evil. Khan served eight years in jail which is all the law required. Because we cannot look into men’s souls, we cannot tell for sure whether a convicted man has truly repented. It would have been easy for Khan to dupe the authorities who freed him. His British neighbours saw nothing strange about him.
Could we seriously contemplate imprisoning for life a man who planned but did not carry out a crime, however heinous? Passing a law to that effect would embroil us in the same question of degree that eventually discredited capital punishment.
Add to this the liberal consensus shared by all the political parties that we should be emptying the jails of even violent prisoners rather than condemning some of them to life imprisonment. There are some lifers, it is true. But what might be the unintended consequences of jailing Muslims for life and fuelling the grievances of their extremists.
I doubt that in a confrontation with Islamists, any politician today would have the courage of Mrs Thatcher who sat out the suicide by hunger strike of Bobby Sands and his friends while the world howled with fury.
Men like Khan are dedicated to a mission, undeterred by the strong likelihood that they will be killed when they attack. What deterrence would life in prison have for them?
We’re angry just as we were angry after the Manchester Arena and other bombings but we move on and we’ll forget again. We should beware that life imprisonment doesn’t create more problems than it solves.
If the answer to the question, ‘should terrorists ever go free?’ is ‘Yes’, then one must place great faith in the Prison Service’s ability to ‘treat’ radicalisation. Friday’s horrific murder by an Islamic terrorist, Usman Khan, released after managing to convince authorities he was deradicalised, suggests we should be very concerned about these state led interventions.
The Motivational and Engagement Intervention (MEI) and the Healthy Identity Intervention (HII) were developed by HMPPS to encourage and facilitate desistance and disengagement from extremist offending. They also screen prisoners convicted of terrorism related offences through the Violent Extremist Risk Assessment tool and Extremist Risk Guidance package of materials. These are usually conducted by Forensic Psychologists or even non-professional Intervention Facilitators. This whole approach needs to be reviewed and reviewed urgently. There are thousands of men convicted of similar offences to Usman Khan in our jails. I’d rather they stay there, in segregation if necessary.
This is just one from a depressingly large number of questions that should be asked of HMPPS and the MoJ.