Terror-plotter gets life, not millions
London judge sentences wannabe terrorist to life with no possibility of parole for 16 1/2 years
On the same day we learned that Canada is going to make a multimillionaire out of undisputed bombmaker and disputed — if self-admitted — U.S. soldier-killer Omar Khadr, a London judge sentenced a teenage wannabe terrorist to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 16 1/2 years.
No connection? There is actually, if only because Khadr has convinced enough judicial and government authorities that he was 1) a child soldier protected by international covenants, left to twist in the Guantanamo wind by Ottawa, under both Liberal and Conservative regimes; and 2) that he was tortured while detained. Thus the Toronto native will be compensated large.
Advocacy goes a long way in influencing public opinion, which in turn influences government response. And Khadr was the beneficiary of lawyers, human rights activists and journalists who successfully portrayed the young man as a victim of circumstances — most especially growing up in a radical jihadist family closely connected to Osama bin Laden — and, you know, not really so bad. Oh sure, a U.S. serviceman was killed and another blinded in one eye during the chaotic 2002 firefight in Afghanistan. But maybe 15-year-old Khadr threw the grenade that caused the casualties and maybe he didn’t. He’s said both in the past. And now he says he can’t remember.
In any event, Khadr has served his prison time, before being transferred back to Canada upon pleading guilty to murder, and has spent more time in jail than a 15-year-old convicted of murder would have under Canadian law. But rewarding him for it, and so generously, seems a bit much. Although, presumably, a chunk of that compensation — will be parcelled off to lawyers.
So that’s where Canada sets the goalposts for bomb-makers who actually cause carnage. Doesn’t it make you proud?
By contrast, the London judge handed down the stiffest penalty possible — life, with a minimum that must be served — against 19-year-old Haroon Syed, whose plotting included targeting of an Elton John concert at Hyde Park on the anniversary last year of Sept. 11.
(Although the U.K. has also compensated nationals who were detained in Guantanamo, including the Muslim convert who received $1.25 million before lamming it to Syria and then blowing himself up in a suicide attack on a military facility in Mosul.)
Syed never got his hands on the nail-packed bomb he coveted, or the machine gun, or the suicide vests. For one thing, the man he was negotiating with was in fact an undercover security officer, as was heard during trial at the Old Bailey.
Back when Syed was arrested, on Sept. 8 last year, the idea of an individual assailant attacking a massive rock concert might have sounded farfetched. Now, post-Manchester, we know better. Searches of his computer, and recorded communications he had with his online arms contact “Abu Yusuf” - the undercover agent showed, court heard, that Syed was casting about for “packed places in London” worthy of his anniversary assault, including Oxford St. and Buckingham Palace, military barracks and the Old Bailey, which he hoped to pay for by taking out bank loans. Except his loan applications were denied and, ultimately, Syed could only come up with about $300 for a homemade nail bomb — “those sharp things lots of them inside.”
The defence, pursuing the usual exculpation, argued that Syed was vulnerable to radicalization because of a turbulent family background, lack of education — though he was an IT college student — ignorance about Islam and addiction to violent online games, his bombing plans a “fantasy” indistinguishable from the games he played on his computer. The judge didn’t buy any of it. At that time, police seized Syed’s passport because they feared he might attempt to join jihadists in Syria. Yet he was never red-flagged to Prevent, the government’s anti-radicalization program for intervention. When police arrested Syed, raiding his home in west London, they found his mobile phone on the top bunk in his bedroom. They asked for the password.
Syed: “Yeah, ISIS. You like that?”