Islamists are not the same as other prisoners

Dec 3, 2019 by

by Melanie Phillips, The Times:

The terrorist attack by Usman Khan on a prisoner rehabilitation conference in London was made possible by two catastrophic and tragic misjudgments. The first was by the Court of Appeal, which changed Khan’s sentence. This had originally been detention for public protection with a minimum of eight years, after which he would have stayed in jail if the Parole Board considered him still dangerous.

The appeal court changed this indeterminate sentence into a fixed term of 16 years. As the law then stood, such prisoners were released on licence halfway through their term with no referral to the Parole Board. So Khan was released after eight years last December. This was despite the original judge’s ruling that the group to which Khan belonged was more dangerous than a second group in the same terrorist cell because his group’s radicalisation was more sophisticated.

The appeal court noted that the terrorist plans of the second group had been more advanced than the Khan group’s. It therefore decided that Khan and his associates posed no greater risk than the second group and downgraded the Khan group’s terms from indeterminate to fixed sentences. The appeal court judges thus prioritised deeds over beliefs. At the root of their mistake lay a failure to understand fanatical Islam. This failure also characterised the second misjudgment, by both the group that had invited Khan to its conference and the probation service which enabled him to attend: believing that he was a reformed character. This was rooted in a deeper refusal to acknowledge the unique challenges of Islamic extremism, a mistake made by most of the justice establishment.

[…]  Such resistance is based on a refusal to acknowledge the cause of this threat: a currently dominant, literalist interpretation of Islam rooted in its religious teachings and texts which, in Acheson’s words, creates “religious extremists with a martyrdom complex”.

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Read also: Latest Terrorist Attack Reveals Britain’s Delusions About Rehabilitation by Theodore Dalrymple, City Journal


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