Zero Tolerance For Terrorism Suspects?
Are we coddling terrorists?
Let's look at the recent case of the suspects in a Canadian terror plot uncovered by police. Terror suspect Dr. Khurram Syed Sher was released from prison on $183,000 bail this week. His alleged co-conspirator was Misbahuddin Ahmed, an Ottawa X-ray technologist, also released on bail conditions including $20,000 in cash and $625,000 in bonds and securities.
These bail amounts are not trivial. Yet if these terror suspects are genuine, they were likely motivated by a perverted ideology of radical Islamism that cares nothing for money and everything for murder and "martyrdom". The modern jihadist is not a bank robber, carrying out his criminal activities for personal gain. More often, he is intent on killing as many innocents as possible - and possibly dying in the process. Money is not an end goal; it is a means for purchasing the materials to kill - or, potentially, stay out of jail long enough to carry out the plot.
Terror suspects and jihadists captured on the battlefield who have been later released do not often make positive contributions to the universe with their newfound freedom. We've seen that many prisoners released from places like Guantanamo Bay end up on Islamist battle fronts. Even when these former detainees do not take part in violence, they do take part in propaganda activities in support of jihad.
Recidivism on the part of terror suspects is a whole other ball game compared to other types of offenses. Even a garden-variety murderer does not pose a real threat to the functioning of society.
But that is precisely the objective of terrorists: to carry out attacks leading to mass casualties that change our way of life for the worse. It's not just about making us wait an extra hour at airports. The Hamas terror campaign against Israel in the early part of this decade showed what is possible: a near breakdown of civil society (Indeed, it is hard to imagine Israel as a functioning country without the security wall and other measures that brought an end to Hamas' genocidal reign of terror).
So more urgent methods seem justified. Let's look back at Mr. Sher's conditions of release.
He can't be trusted with a cell phone. He can't be trusted to use the Internet. He can't be trusted with a passport. He can't contact over a dozen individuals who are presumably terror suspects (has he had extensive contact with them before?). It seems he can't even be trusted to avoid funding terror or purchasing bomb-making materials if he's got more than $250 in his pocket. Indeed, police have so little faith in this suspect that he will have to report once a week to the RCMP.
This is Canada, not some banana republic. If the evidence against Sher wasn't already significant, bail would be substantially reduced and these conditions would not apply, if Sher wasn't simply released into society. These conditions are a measure of risk as the judge sees it. All of this begs the question: given these draconian restrictions on his freedom and the risk it implies, why even bother letting him out? Why the hell is he walking the streets?
In the case of terror suspects, where the crimes are of an order of magnitude greater than any other crime, shouldn't the precautionary principle dictate mandatory jail time until the case is decided? Yes, we are innocent until proven guilty. But public safety warrants a tougher approach.
Jonathon Narvey is the Editor of The Propagandist.