I have always had mixed feelings about the thorny issue of capital punishment. In general, I don’t approve because few murders, no matter how brutal are carried out in totally cold blood.
Terrorism on the other hand is a different matter. Terrorist crimes are carefully planned and executed with no feelings for the innocence of the victims. As a relatively young man, I was heavily involved in the Rhodesian war and while the rest of the world looked on our opposition as freedom fighters, to us on the ground, they were terrorists, pure and simple.
I won’t go into details here because the memories still haunt my dreams, but the victims of that war were generally helpless and uninvolved. They were usually incapable of defending themselves and despite public opinion in the west, most of them were black.
Thankfully, capital punishment was in force at the time and convicted terrorists were hanged, which to me and to most other folk who witnessed their atrocities was the correct thing to be done.
For some years now Britain has been fighting – not quite the right word I’m afraid – a terrorist war. There has been a long sequence of killings of innocent members of the public, culminating in last Friday’s horrific events on London Bridge, wherein two young people were murdered while merely going about their daily lives.
Now it turns out that the terrorist involved, one Usman Khan was convicted of terrorism offences many years ago but due to the feebleness of the legal system in this country was released early to continue his war on innocents.
When he was convicted less than a decade ago, the judge gave Khan an indeterminate sentence – he could only be released after a ‘lengthy term of imprisonment’ if he convinced the Parole Board, he was no longer a danger to the public. That was as it should be but the initial robustness quickly unravelled.
In 2013, the Court of Appeal overturned the earlier ruling and gave him a sixteen year jail term instead. This meant that, under the automatic early release regime imposed by the last Labour government, he would be set free just halfway through his sentence. Due to the system, not even the Parole Board was involved in the decision to release the man. This is surely highly disturbing and just as disturbing was the pathetic gullibility of the penal authorities.
As soon as he was jailed, Khan pretended to have abandoned his violent fundamentalism.
“I want to live my life as a good citizen of Britain,” he wrote deviously.
His ruse worked so well that he became a poster boy for the supposed success of rehabilitation and deradicalization programmes, but as is now palpably evident, Khan’s assertion of civic responsibility was a front. He was still a terrorist at heart.
Tragically for those who died, the judiciary and academia were fooled, largely because of their addiction to institutional leniency. That outlook is also revealed, as Bunter Johnson indicated yesterday to Andrew Marr, in the early release of more than seventy other convicted terrorists.
Why for God’s sake. Even if they haven’t yet killed, these people are killers of the most barbaric sort. One recent study of European jihadists found that almost twenty percent of convicted terrorists become repeat offenders.
Ian Acheson is a former prison governor who carried out a review for the Government of Islamic extremism in our jails. Yesterday he wrote that there are ‘shockingly bad’ deficiencies ‘in every aspect of the management of terrorist offenders,’ characterised by ‘jaw-dropping levels of naivety and bureaucratic obfuscation,’ which mean that rehabilitation courses are ‘easy to game.’
So the state is failing in its duty to protect us, especially with an estimated four thousand would-be jihadists in our midst. Unfortunately the term ‘jihadist’ lends them a spurious respectability as it makes them out to be fighting for a cause. While this may be true in a few cases, these people are terrorists at heart – inadequates trying to make a name for themselves at the expense of others.
Surely a stricter approach is needed and although I am no great admirer of the Conservatives, at least in Bunter Johnson and Priti Patel, they have two people at the top who seem determined to adopt a far tougher approach.
But what about Labour. Surely they must understand the feelings of ordinary men and women going about their daily lives in ever more likely danger from released terrorists?
Jeremy Corbyn does not give me a great deal of confidence I’m afraid. His Party was the architect of both automatic early release for prisoners and the 1998 Human Rights Act which has created a gold mine for the legal profession but undermined the fight against crime in general.
In fact, Corbyn’s own oft-expressed philosophy is hardly a boost to the confidence of those who favour a tougher approach to the problem. An acknowledged terrorist sympathiser and anti-Western Marxist, he called the death of Osama Bin Laden ‘a tragedy’ and has questioned the shoot-to-kill policy against IS leaders. Is it any wonder then that the notorious extremist Anjem Choudary once called Corbyn ‘the voice of the oppressed.’
To distract from his past utterings, Corbyn at the weekend spoke of the need for more police, but that is not going to help I’m afraid. Police numbers were irrelevant in the Khan case, given how quickly and decisively they were on the scene. The real issue was Khan’s freedom to murder and maim.
That is why Bunter Johnson’s policy would be a far more effective way of dealing with terrorists.
If they stand by their promises, the Conservatives will immediately introduce longer sentences, to be served in full, if they win the election. For all that, a hung Parliament will mean more paralysis just when action is so badly needed against these murderous people.
I know capital punishment won’t be brought back, but sometimes it is the only answer to keep people safe when going about their daily lives. If we can’t hang them, put them away for ever even if it does go against their ruddy human rights.
Those two young people who were murdered on Friday had human rights too, but their rights were obviously not as justified as Usman Khan’s rights.