For a jihadi, Britain is one of the very best places in the world. In Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, overhead drones kill terrorists on a regular basis. In most democratic countries, politicians try to limit their enemies’ ability to operate — so one runs the risk of being thrown into prison, if caught mid-jihad. But not in Britain. Here, the Islamist insurgents have found that there are a hundred ways to run rings around our police and justice system. Nothing demonstrates this more spectacularly than the control orders farce.Whole article below.
Jihad against justice
DOUGLAS MURRAY in the Spectator.
8 JANUARY 2011
The control orders fiasco shows that our political class still isn’t serious about security
Original article Here.
[PF comment: The US is also not immune to the Jihad against justice, see here.]
For a jihadi, Britain is one of the very best places in the world. In Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, overhead drones kill terrorists on a regular basis. In most democratic countries, politicians try to limit their enemies’ ability to operate — so one runs the risk of being thrown into prison, if caught mid-jihad. But not in Britain. Here, the Islamist insurgents have found that there are a hundred ways to run rings around our police and justice system. Nothing demonstrates this more spectacularly than the control orders farce.
Control orders are an inelegant system for putting restrictions on terror suspects, either because the evidence which could convict them is too sensitive to be used in a criminal court, or because European human rights laws prevent them from being deported. Eight people are being detained under control orders, with the suspects under curfew, electronic tagging, a travel ban or other restrictions. The system is understandably popular, but it seems certain that David Cameron will allow his Lib Dem colleagues to claim victory by altering the name and tinkering with the terms.
If this happens, it might be seen as a Lib Dem victory. But it will be the clearest possible evidence that the coalition government, like the Labour government before it, remains unwilling to deal with the problem which made control orders necessary in the first place: the fact that this country has been systematically failed by its legal, political and immigration systems. Once, foreign nationals who posed a threat could be deported. The European Convention on Human Rights has put a stop to that.
Take, for example, Abid Naseer and Ahmad Khan, two Pakistani nationals who were arrested for involvement in an alleged bomb attack in Manchester in Easter 2009. The Special Immigration Appeals Commission ruled that they could not be deported to their home country, as they might be mistreated there. Article Three of the ECHR (torture) was cited. With no other options, the new government, both parts of which opposed control orders in opposition, has imposed them on Naseer and Khan.
One might ask: why should such people not be detained in prison? The answer is complicated. The fact is that multiple plots (like the one before Christmas which aimed to blow up Big Ben and Westminster Abbey) are being investigated all the time and, in cases like this, providing all the available evidence in open court would seriously jeopardise efforts of the security services and police to thwart future plots. Terrorists would be able to go through reams of sensitive security information, learning about information-gathering tactics and security service contacts.
The police and services are doing an astonishingly good job. But it is one they would do even better if the political class were committed to helping them. The problem started in 2001 when, after 11 September, the government detained a dozen individuals without trial. These included Abu Qatada, Osama bin Laden’s representative in Europe. But in December 2004 the House of Lords ruled that detaining suspects without trial was incompatible with the ECHR because it ‘discriminates on the ground of nationality or immigration status’ and violated their right to liberty. The Labour government had to release them, but attempted to keep them under supervision and restrict their movements. As former Labour minister Tony McNulty said, control orders are ‘not even our second — or third — best option for dealing with suspected terrorists. But under existing laws they are as far as we can go.’
It was to that government’s shame that they failed to revoke the laws that got them in this mess. But anyone who hoped their successors would do better has been bitterly disappointed. In opposition, senior Conservatives were consistently critical of control orders. As shadow attorney general, Dominic Grieve described them as ‘unpleasant, repellent and disgusting’. A year ago, Pauline Neville-Jones, now security minister, described them as ‘morally objectionable’ as well as ‘costly’. As it turned out, further control orders — the ones on Naseer and Khan — were one of Theresa May’s first acts as Home Secretary.
The Conservatives had, like most opponents of control orders, talked as though the alternatives were simple. Alas, they are not. Take the relatively rare examples of two British citizens currently among the remaining eight under control orders. One of them (a man I can only name here as AY) was central to the thwarted 2006 plot to blow up planes on their way to the United States. Most of those involved were successfully convicted of conspiracy to murder. But AY was not. For a good reason.
According to a senior security official, the Birmingham-based suspect ‘is so important to al-Qa’eda that a large part of the tactics adopted by those convicted for the liquid bomb plot when questioned by detectives were aimed at keeping him out of jail’. The same official described AY as ‘the most dangerous and important al-Qa’eda operative in Britain’. Much significant information about him could not be released at trial. The jury was not informed that he had met a suspected al-Qa’eda operative — allegedly a fixer of the attempted London tube bombings of 21 July 2005 — in South Africa and London in the spring and summer of 2006. When the jury found him not guilty, he was put under a control order.
This involves a special hearing where the High Court judge, Mr Justice Wilkie, put it thus: ‘The jury had to answer the question, whether they were sure that AY was a conspirator to the airline bomb plot... The jury was not sure of AY’s guilt, on the basis of the evidence placed before them, but the evidence placed before me is different.’ Under the current system, it is common for sensitive information to be shown to a judge but not made public in court; it is one of the many complications in the English system.
One of AY’s accomplices, known as AM, is believed to have received terrorist training in Pakistan, and to have been in contact with the transatlantic airline bomb plotters. When placing him under control orders, Mr Justice Wilkie agreed with the judgment of MI5, saying that the ‘overwhelming evidence’ shown to him proved that AM ‘was and remains prepared to be a “martyr” in an attack designed to take many lives. He remains highly trained, security conscious and committed.’
AY and AM are among the people whose release the Liberal Democrats and their sympathisers on the Conservative benches hope to celebrate as a victory for ‘civil liberties’. It would be no such thing. It would be the prelude to a disaster. David Cameron, who reportedly said the coalition were heading for a ‘f—king car-crash’ on this issue, appears to realise this. The case of Mahmoud Abu Rideh, whose story has not been published before, suggests the Prime Minister was right.
Rideh, a Jordanian, was granted asylum in Britain in 1998. He used his time in this country to involve himself with terrorist groups and disseminate their materials. He was associated with senior al-Qa’eda figures, and was referred to in correspondence by the head-hacking leader of al-Qa’eda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Rideh received UK state benefits of £11,300 a year, but had £150,000 in his bank accounts, which he channelled to various jihadi groups in Afghanistan.
After the 11 September attacks, Rideh was one of the dozen men detained as an immediate security risk. When the Lords ordered their release, in 2005, he was one of the first to be put under a control order. And here is another reason that jihadis find Britain to be such a comfortable home. No sooner had Rideh been put under the order than he became a cause célèbre of what was once Britain’s civil liberties lobby.
Amnesty campaigned for him, depicting him as an innocent man being driven to ill health by the order. ‘All Rideh wants to do is escape the hell that the UK government has put him through,’ said Kate Allen, its director. The Guardian ran an article about him, and a letter supporting him that was signed by Helena Kennedy QC, Bruce Kent and the former Guantanamo detainee Moazzem Begg. They claimed that even Rideh’s own solicitors had seen no evidence against him. In fact plenty of evidence against him was in the public domain. The Independent found space for Rideh’s wife to explain what a lovely man her husband was, and published a photo of his five children holding placards demanding their father’s freedom. Investigative journalists were as willingly uncritical as the human rights organisations.
Eventually, in 2009, after his control order was revoked, the government allowed Rideh to leave the country. Just before Christmas his death was announced on an al-Qa’eda web forum. He had been ‘martyred’ fighting in Afghanistan.
Rideh’s case is important because it points to the complete lack of seriousness with which the political class and much of the media are treating the British people’s most basic right: to life, and protection from terrorists. Outside the security services, very few people in the British establishment seem to realise that the jihadis do actually mean it. We are dealing with men who have long histories of involvement with extremist groups. They fight, fund-raise, plot and recruit, and they mean what they say. They really do want to fight and die for their cause. They really do want to take significant numbers of people with them. They think big. And Britain cannot deal with them by treating them like any other criminals.
During previous threats, during the two world wars, during the IRA’s campaigns and during the 1991 Gulf War, this country was willing to detain and deter those who sought to do us harm. We should do the same now.
That is why it is incumbent on the opponents of control orders to find a way out. Scrapping the system is not responsible in the short term, and the system is not replaceable in the long term. There is only one way out of this mess. The Prime Minister said he would take this route before the election, but the Lib Dems would hate it even more than retention.
Britain is only in this mess because of the European Convention. Time and again, judicial decisions have demonstrated that the convention — though it has many benefits — cannot protect a nation’s security. Time and again, the wellbeing of those intent on the murder of people in this country has overridden the rights of the lawful majority. The clear solution is to change how we treat the convention. We might do what France and Italy have done, and ignore it on occasions. Or we could pull out altogether — creating a new British bill of rights, as David Cameron once promised to do. This bill of rights would take precedence over anything pronounced in Strasbourg.
As the jihadis know only too well, Britain’s hands are tied. For as long as we are subservient to European law, we can neither detain our British enemies nor deport our foreign enemies. We are simply stuck with them. As Prime Minister, Cameron will have been given a full briefing about the extent of the jihadi threat — and about the near-misses. He will know that, even if we do not want a war on terror, the terrorists are very much at war with us. And if it comes to choosing between saving the neck of the Lib Dems or saving British lives, the Prime Minister should know what is expected of him.
Related information: Report on Sharia in the US: Shariah the Threat to America, an exercise in competitive analysis, Report of Team 'B' II, Center for Security Policy, 2010. Here.