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Terrorism behind bars?

Posted By Rumbold On 23rd October, 2007 @ 8:41 pm In Civil liberties | 41 Comments

How should the government deal with convicted terrorists?

A [1] BBC report indicates that prison is reinforcing the beliefs of jailed terrorists:

“Al-Qaeda prisoners in UK jails are being hardened instead of reformed, top Whitehall sources have told the BBC. A major programme of radicalisation is underway in prisons, targeting vulnerable young men and preaching violent jihad, it has been claimed.”

Most of these unreformed people will be released at some point, and as they are unlikely to be deported, they will still be a danger to this country. Terrorism is a crime fuelled by ideology, rather than self-interest (like a bank robbery for instance), and so reformation of character is much more difficult. How should released terrorists be dealt with then? Fairness dictates that we treat them as we would any other released prisoners, but is that enough? Paedophiles and those with mental illnesses are monitored after leaving prison; should this be the fate of released terrorists too?


41 Comments To "Terrorism behind bars?"

#1 Comment By douglas clark On 23rd October, 2007 @ 10:48 pm

Rumbold,

I would be astonished if those convicted on terrorist charges were not monitored, and probably by the security services at that.

What is of more concern to me is the latter part of the article that you linked to, where it is pretty plain that the concern is about the radicalisation and recruitment of people who are in jail for other things. That would seem to me to have been an obvious possibility that ought to have been tackled before now.

#2 Comment By soru On 23rd October, 2007 @ 11:15 pm

The story of the jailing of the IRA is pretty interesting. They locked all the lifers up in the same jail, let them have endless discussions with each other, and gave them full access to all kinds of literature. The [2] Maze library was a world-class collection of south american Marxist pamphlets and the like, covering every aspect of the theory of armed struggle.

Some say it was out of that discussions that the the seed of the peace process was born: having thought about it hard and well, they were unable to avoid the realisation that they couldn’t win any kind of military victory.

On the other hand, the jailing of Hitler didn’t work so well:

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Hitler#World_War_I

On April 1, 1924, Hitler was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment at Landsberg Prison. Hitler received favoured treatment from the guards and had much fan mail from admirers. He was pardoned and released from jail in December 1924, as part of a general amnesty for political prisoners. Including time on remand, he had served little more than one year of his sentence. While at Landsberg he dictated Mein Kampf

I think the moral of this story is that you shouldn’t ever lock someone up for political violence for a _short_ sentence. You might have cause to shoot a tiger, but shouldn’t ever slap one.

30+ years to be served, or nothing. Creating new semi-terrorist offences with low penalties is a dangerous mistake.

#3 Comment By Kesara On 23rd October, 2007 @ 11:39 pm

Fairness dictates that we treat them as we would any other released prisoners, but is that enough?

Sadly terrorists tend not to play by the rules of fairness. Which generally puts them a step ahead of the societies they’re terrorising…

#4 Comment By Random Guy On 23rd October, 2007 @ 11:47 pm

Kesara, what part of fairness involves bombing and massacring innocent civilians? Peddle that bull somewhere else please…

#5 Comment By Sunny On 24th October, 2007 @ 12:03 am

You might have cause to shoot a tiger, but shouldn’t ever slap one.

haha, love that analogy.

I think Kesara’s point is well made though Random Guy. But then no criminal really plays to the rules of fairness otherwise they wouldn’t be in prison.

#6 Comment By douglas clark On 24th October, 2007 @ 12:22 am

Soru,

Ré the Maze, it was also said, probably by Republicans, that the Loyalists had a huge collection of body building books…..

Random Guy,

did you miss the word ’sadly’ at the start of Kesara’s post, or am I missing something?

#7 Comment By Ravi Naik On 24th October, 2007 @ 12:23 am

But then no criminal really plays to the rules of fairness otherwise they wouldn’t be in prison.

Kesara’s argument is exactly what led to Guantanamo Bay and secret prisons in Eastern Europe. The idea that we shouldn’t play by the rules because they are one step ahead.

#8 Comment By douglas clark On 24th October, 2007 @ 12:44 am

Ravi Naik,

Is that not a bit of a stretch? We have locked some folk up for terrorism, after due process. I have no arguement with that, and I doubt you do either. If they are then able to radicalise other prisoners when they are in jail, then that is a legitimate concern, is it not?

I happen to think that everyone who is accused of being a terrorist is entitled to a fair trial, and if the evidence isn’t produced by the state to convince a jury - remember them - then they should be free to go. It would however be completely naivé of me to assumed that even folk found innocent would not be subject to continued monitoring.

Tying extraordinary renditions and Gitmo into this story seems to me to be a wrong step. Sorry.

Gitmo and extraordinary rendition are, to my mind at least, the state acting in an extrajudicial manner and is a bellweather, frankly, of how corrupt some politicians have become. That is not even the other side of a coin, it is a completely different coin.

#9 Comment By Boyo On 24th October, 2007 @ 8:38 am

Isn’t it bloody obvious that this would happen? Many would-be jihadis are drawn from the criminal classes, so it is natural that prisoners should be an obvious catch.

What the govt. SHOULD do is isolate prisoners convicted for terrorist-related offences, as they did in N.Ireland, in their own prisons/ wings and develop a separate regime of rehabilitation.

But there is still very much a head-in-sand thing going on here - the state just can’t seem to accept the fact that these people are NOT just criminals but ideologically-driven warriors (in their own eyes).

While they could accept the Irish (damn foreigners) might be like that, they can’t accept it is happening on mainland Britain (and their policies re integration have in this regard essentially failed).

Therefore they do not just label them criminals (which is as they should) they treat them like criminals (which they are not) thereby enabling them to spread their creed among the criminal classes.

Pure ostrichism!

#10 Comment By Random Guy On 24th October, 2007 @ 9:03 am

@douglas, #6: I was actually contrasting Kesara’s view of terrorists with the actions of this government and the U.S. in Iraq, i.e. Terrorists don’t play by the rules, but Western governments haven’t either. Therefore her point is a bit irrelevant in the context of ’societies’ that kill innocent civilians somehow being more fair than terrorists who kill innocent civilians.

More to the point, it is a certainty that incarceration will not reform those convicted of terrorist offences. Boyo’s point, although well made, refuses to acknowledge the main justification that these people make for their terrorist actions - UK foreign policy killing other muslims in other parts of the world. And that causes a head-in-the-sand type response from those who argue that the problems lie in integration, the muslim community themselves etc. (I am not saying there are no issues to address here).

So we have a unique situation where both parties have buried their head in the sand and are arguing about different factors as causing the problem. Which IMO, is a typical response with the amount of misinformation, interest groups and pure hatred being tossed about by all concerned.

#11 Comment By Refresh On 24th October, 2007 @ 10:05 am

Rumbold, I am not sure about the value of the story.

I am with Random Guy in general. But to make a practical point - how long have they been in prison and how are they meant to be ‘rehabilitated’?

#12 Comment By Rumbold On 24th October, 2007 @ 10:25 am

Douglas:

“I would be astonished if those convicted on terrorist charges were not monitored, and probably by the security services at that.

Possibly, but given the limited resources of the security services there is only so much they can do. We will not start to feel the impact of realised terrorists anyway for a few years now.

Ravi Naik:

“Kesara’s argument is exactly what led to Guantanamo Bay and secret prisons in Eastern Europe. The idea that we shouldn’t play by the rules because they are one step ahead.”

Exactly. My point was that the seriousness of the crime is reflected in the length of sentence (or should be), so how can the state then turn around and inflict additional punishments on terrorists, but not murderers or rapists?

Refresh:

“Rumbold, I am not sure about the value of the story.

I am with Random Guy in general. But to make a practical point - how long have they been in prison and how are they meant to be ‘rehabilitated’?”

The latter part is not clear. I do think that this story is an important one though, because one day these prisoners are going to be released into the community, probably unreformed.

#13 Comment By douglas clark On 24th October, 2007 @ 10:59 am

Random Guy @ 10,

Fair enough. I see what you are saying and largely agree with it.

As a by the way, if you are found to be mad and dangerous, as I understand it you will not be released until you are rediagnosed as sane. Given that blowing yourself up, along with your fellow citizens is clearly insane, perhaps they should be held under mental health legislation, rather than criminal legislation?

Rumbold @ 12,

Is the solution not to isolate the terrorists from other prisoners? At least that way their foul ideology wouldn’t spread to others? I don’t have the figures but I’d be astonished - my favourite word today apparently - if the government isn’t putting as much resources into the security services as the security services ask for. Which might not be a good thing, but there you go.

If Brown gets us out of Iraq, which looks likely, then a lot of this shit will stop. Afghanistan is a completely different story, I think.

What I would like to see the West doing is insisting that the Geneva Conventions do apply to those they have captured and live up to those standards. Where random guy is completely correct is in saying, I paraphrase, that we have sunk to the level of the terrorists in our response. This is, frankly, not good enough.

#14 Comment By Ravi Naik On 24th October, 2007 @ 11:24 am

Tying extraordinary renditions and Gitmo into this story seems to me to be a wrong step. Sorry.

I was not tying Gitmo to this story, but to Kesara’s comment which I believe insinuates that the rule of law applied for criminals does not apply to terrorists because they are “one step ahead”, and thus extraordinary measures are required for these super-villains, because their special power is the ability to bend the rules of fairness.

I am not trying to minimise the problem of terrorism, but I do believe that we have a solid framework that deals with people that could be a threat to society if they get out of prison. Perhaps if we think of them as dangerous criminals rather than “terrorists”, this might sink in.

#15 Comment By Morgoth On 24th October, 2007 @ 11:25 am

Douglas, there’s a lot of nonsense talked about the Geneva Conventions. If you actually read them, the protections therein applied to legal combatants don’t actually apply to the likes of Al-Queda. Remember the famous photograph from Vietnam of the VC Spy being summarily executed by Nguyen Loan? Under the Geneva Conventions, that was perfectly legal.

#16 Comment By Ravi Naik On 24th October, 2007 @ 11:37 am

By the way, I do have faith that Britain will not do something as attrocious as the US. And I do believe in intelligence gathering, and that suspects should be monitored. But that is only half the battle. The other half concerns zero tolerance to radical speech. And that means closing down mosques and centres which either harbour radical speech or which have chosen to ignore this problem. If athis country managed to get virulent white racism out of the mainstream, it can also stand against any other kind of bigotry.

#17 Comment By douglas clark On 24th October, 2007 @ 11:40 am

Morgoth,

It all comes down to a definition of what a legal combatant actually is. It is pretty clear, to me at least, that the US Justice Department has driven a coach and horses through any reasonable interpretation of that definition and have assumed that their putative enemies are to have no legal protection whatsoever. Unless of course you consider the Star Chamber system to be a legal system, which it clearly is not.

That is the hallmark of a dictatorship. You happy with waterboarding and the like? Not in my name, mate. Perhaps in yours?

#18 Comment By Ravi Naik On 24th October, 2007 @ 11:42 am

“If you actually read them, the protections therein applied to legal combatants don’t actually apply to the likes of Al-Queda”

I am glad you are using Bush’s technical terms such “legal combatants ™”, it just gives more credibility. But if it is “War on Terror” ™, and Al Qaeda is the enemy and they are caught, aren’t they prisoners of war? In either case, they deserve a trial. Don’t you agree?

#19 Comment By Morgoth On 24th October, 2007 @ 11:44 am

Frankly, Douglas, I’d be happy with Al-Queda members being summarily executed and then buried in pig fat, pour encourager les autres. They’re the modern day equivalent of the SS.

#20 Comment By Ravi Naik On 24th October, 2007 @ 11:54 am

“happy with Al-Queda members being summarily executed and then buried in pig fat, pour encourager les autres.”

Lovely… no trial, mass execution, and humiliation of prisioners. Check, check, check… you are really going for the Pickled Politics’s troll of the month award, aren’t you? :)

#21 Comment By Rumbold On 24th October, 2007 @ 11:56 am

Douglas:

“Is the solution not to isolate the terrorists from other prisoners? At least that way their foul ideology wouldn’t spread to others?”

Sadly, that could be the best option.

“If Brown gets us out of Iraq, which looks likely, then a lot of this [expletive deleted] will stop.”

I doubt it- most of these people are motivated by a twisted, murderous ideology. They will find other reasons to be terrorists (e.g. Bin Laden justified the Madrid bombing by claiming revenge for the destruction of Granada in 1492).

Morgoth:

“Frankly, Douglas, I’d be happy with Al-Queda members being summarily executed and then buried in pig fat, pour encourager les autres. They’re the modern day equivalent of the SS.”

It does not matter how bad Al-Qaeda is, but how we conduct ourselves. Gitmo is wrong, no matter who you are holding there. Extraordinary rendition is wrong, no matter who it is done to. Why bother battling Al-Qaeda if we don’t hold oursleves to higher standards than them?

#22 Comment By Sid On 24th October, 2007 @ 11:57 am

oh yeah and he’s been offered a blogging position by Dickhead’s Kitchen. Some people who are also blog there should be careful who they accuse of “guilt by association”

#23 Comment By Sofia On 24th October, 2007 @ 11:58 am

Morgoth..you are reminding me more and more like the fascists you claim to hate

#24 Comment By Sid On 24th October, 2007 @ 11:59 am

This is [4] worth a read:

Legitimacy is not something that can be conjured out of illegality by finding the right political or military strategy. International law requires us to end our offensive military operations and to submit the crisis we have created to the UN Security Council without prejudice, not to win approval of a new U.S. plan for Iraq, but so that we can withdraw our forces, Iraq can regain true sovereignty, and the UN can offer its assistance as needed or requested by the Iraqis. The legitimate ongoing role of the United States in this process would be the payment of reparations to enable the Iraqi people to recover from the war and to rebuild their country.

The principal lesson for future U.S. foreign policy is that the many diplomats and lawyers who worked so hard to create the current framework of international law deserve our profoundest deference and respect. Our predecessors bequeathed us an international legal code that embodies great wisdom forged from bitter experience in times at least as difficult and dangerous as our own. We can begin to unwind this spiral of uncontrollable violence by renewing our own commitment to international law, by supporting efforts to strengthen judicial enforcement of its provisions in both national and international courts, and by insisting that military and international lawyers be consulted in the formulation of U.S. defense policy.

#25 Comment By Morgoth On 24th October, 2007 @ 12:02 pm

Oh yes, Sid, International Law was so great at deposing Saddam, or stopping the Genocide in Rwanda, or protecting Srebenica, or getting rid of Kim-ll-Jong, wasn’t it?

Sofia, just using the religious’s own fears against them. In the case of Jewish terrorists, you could bury them in polyester, for example.

#26 Comment By Sid On 24th October, 2007 @ 12:06 pm

Morgoth, do you think you have moral authority to dictate who the “evil leaders” when your own back yard is strewn in dead, mutiliated and tortured bodies. The last one was Fallujah. Do you even know what went on there?

#27 Comment By Random Guy On 24th October, 2007 @ 12:12 pm

Sid/Sofia, I would recommend ignoring Morgoth. He is not here to discuss anything, just to provoke and anger other posters.

#28 Comment By douglas clark On 24th October, 2007 @ 12:13 pm

Morgoth,

One other point of clarification, if I may?

The point about the Geneva Convention was, inter alia, that it dealt with captured enemy combatants. It allows, whilst hostilities continue, for folk who were fighting for the other side (that you happen to catch), to be locked up until such times as the hostilities cease. Their incarceration, which is not a punishment as such, is surrounded by various protections, all of which the US has denied to folk at Gitmo, and more seriously those that have been rendered. Allegedly, nearly 12,000 folk. All of this so that G W Bush can smirk on Fox TV.

You are coming across as being an apologist for torture and disappearances if it’s done by the Christian Right. I trust that that is just my paranoia and is not reflected in your reality.

Meanwhile, the US takes Iraq into the stone age. And sabre rattles over Iran.

Friends of the nuclear option, Oliver Kamm comes to mind, get to write pieces that say, “hey, Nagasaki and Hiroshima were OK folks, get with the programme”.

Christ, what’s not to love about the new Rome and it’s sychophants?

We used to have a half decent civilisation here, once upon a time.

#29 Comment By Rumbold On 24th October, 2007 @ 12:14 pm

Random Guy:

Actually, Morgoth is addressing the very purpose of this thread- how convicted terrorists should be dealt with.

#30 Comment By j0nz On 24th October, 2007 @ 12:16 pm

Soru #2 good point

#31 Comment By Sid On 24th October, 2007 @ 12:17 pm

Random Guy — you’re so right.

Shall we initiate a Blank the Wanker policy by the regular posters on Pickled Politics? That should bring on death of trolls by removing the oxygen of attention.

Start by blanking the wanker: the troll Morgoth

#32 Comment By Rumbold On 24th October, 2007 @ 12:21 pm

Morgoth:

” International Law was so great at deposing Saddam, or stopping the Genocide in Rwanda, or protecting Srebenica, or getting rid of Kim-ll-Jong, wasn’t it?”

The Geneva convention is a good bit of international law though. Not because it isinternational, but because it provides for the humane treatment of captives.

#33 Comment By Random Guy On 24th October, 2007 @ 12:27 pm

@Rumbold, #29: Is he? If so, it is getting lost in the endless torrent of BS he keeps spouting.

#34 Comment By Refresh On 24th October, 2007 @ 12:29 pm

Rumbold, I wasn’t clear.

How do you rehabilitate anyone? My approach would have been to demonstrate to the prisoners that the world isn’t as they think it is. It may mean cutting them off from all external influences such as radio, TV, newspapers and perhaps creating a whole new world with its own media.

I guess they should not also hear about the build-up to war on Iran. Nor the anti-muslim invective poruing from all the different parts of the media.

As for the question of how long, then I am not clear about how many there are in prison - how many for actual terrorist offences, how many for having material (which I am guessing means material as opposed to materiel). So in terms of how long, isn’t it unlikely that any of them have been in prison for longer than a year or two.

Which brings me to the value of the story. How do you rehabilitate in such a short period of time? And then the question is what do you rehabilitate them into?

Given its a question of political thought and aspirations - if you were to say ‘look its not about your faith, its the oil’; ‘we need the oil and you have most of it, what would you expect us to do, starve?’.

Then I think you would actually shift the game dramatically, and everyone will start looking at it differently.

#35 Comment By j0nz On 24th October, 2007 @ 12:29 pm

own back yard is strewn in dead, mutiliated and tortured bodies. The last one was Fallujah. Do you even know what went on there?

Was that the Falleuja that had all 60 mosques used as fighting posititions?

[5] www.military.com/ContentFiles/Fallujah_112004.ppt

Have you any idea Sid, or do you just take the jihadis word for it?

[6] Fallujah Gains Mythic Air

BAGHDAD, April 12 — The U.S. Marine siege of Fallujah, designed to isolate and pursue a handful of extremists in a restive town, has produced a powerful backlash in the capital. Urged on by leaflets, sermons and freshly sprayed graffiti calling for jihad, young men are leaving Baghdad to join a fight that residents say has less to do with battlefield success than with a cause infused with righteousness and sacrifice.

“The fighting now is different than a year ago. Before, the Iraqis fought for nothing. Now, fighters from all over Iraq are going to sacrifice themselves,” said a Fallujah native who gave his name as Abu Idris and claimed to be in contact with guerrillas who slip in and out of the besieged city three and four times daily.

#36 Comment By douglas clark On 24th October, 2007 @ 12:31 pm

Rumbold @ 21,

I doubt it- most of these people are motivated by a twisted, murderous ideology. They will find other reasons to be terrorists (e.g. Bin Laden justified the Madrid bombing by claiming revenge for the destruction of Granada in 1492).

Mibee Aye, mibee naw. The catalyst for most of this violence does seem to me to be about current affairs. I doubt young folk would be as radicalised by events in 1492 as they are about the likes of Fallujah. And, in any event, was the Madrid bombing not really about the presence of Spanish troops in Iraq?

Your reply to Morgoth in the same post is in the highest traditions of you being an all round good egg.

#37 Comment By j0nz On 24th October, 2007 @ 12:32 pm

#31 thats a bit strong. Those who disagree can all go away Sid but I’m sure it’s more interesting to the majority to have a cross section of views aint it?

#38 Comment By Morgoth On 24th October, 2007 @ 12:38 pm

Do you even know what went on there?

Do you?

Did you care when Al-Queda, when they took over Fallujah, killed women for actually daring to walk outside in the street. Or when they killed traders in neighbouring provinces for daring to display “male” and “female” vegetables together? No, you don’t give a shit, do you. Unless blame can be put on the West, you don’t actually care in the slightest, do you?

Start by blanking the wanker: the troll Morgoth

Sid, I’m the one actually trying to deal with the substance of the post. You on the other hand, apart from being a potty-mouthed Sunny Hundal mini-me, don’t actually serve any purpose here other than to scream “racist!” and “troll!” at anyone who gets in the way of your tiresome tirades, even people like Rumbold, who are posters on this site! You’re nothing but a particularily unpleasant Benjamin Mackie, seeking to reshape Pickled Politics in your own image. Look at how many people have left this website, look at the paucity of commenters here compared to any other blog such as even HP, Samizdata, Popinjays, or even LabourHome or ConservativeHome. Is it surprising when anyone that doesn’t conform to the party line of an out-of-control freak like Sid is immediately treated to a barrage of “troll!” and “racist!”? There’s enough beams and motes in your own eye to plant a whole forest with an ocean around it, you pillock.

#39 Comment By Morgoth On 24th October, 2007 @ 12:39 pm

And, in any event, was the Madrid bombing not really about the presence of Spanish troops in Iraq?,/i>

The Madrid bombing was, like the Bali bombing, planned before 9/11, IIRC.

#40 Comment By Sid On 24th October, 2007 @ 12:39 pm

jonz, not if the wanker in question happens to be a persistent troll who poisons the discourse with repulsive views. I knew you rather sympathise with those views, but you can always go the BNP site or Devil’s Kitchen to satisfy your little urges, surely?

#41 Comment By Sid On 24th October, 2007 @ 12:40 pm

Morgoth, please try and realise, that you are a racist.


Article printed from Pickled Politics: http://www.pickledpolitics.com

URL to article: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/1472

URLs in this post:
[1] BBC report: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7058955.stm
[2] Maze library: http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/politicsphilosophyandsociety/story/0,,405648,00.html
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Hitler#World_War_I: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Hitler#World_War_I
[4] worth a read: http://zmagsite.zmag.org/Images/davies0205.html
[5] www.military.com/ContentFiles/Fallujah_112004.ppt: http://www.military.com/ContentFiles/Fallujah_112004.ppt
[6] Fallujah Gains Mythic Air: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A6462-2004Apr12_2.html