After two young graduates of England’s University of Cambridge died at the hands of a knife-wielding terrorist on London Bridge last week, one news report showed just how determined some of us are not to confront terrorism.
The Wall Street Journal had a news story that treated the problem facing society as one of the difficulty in tracking convicted terrorists:
The question of how to monitor convicted terrorists returning into society is a growing issue for stretched counterterrorism police and security agencies in the U.K. and across Europe—a parallel with the challenge they face from jihadists returning from the Syrian conflict.
But Usman Khan, who took the lives of the two Cambridge graduates on London Bridge, was in a place where it was easy to monitor him until shortly before the attack: he was in prison.
If he had not been released early, Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones would still be alive.
The trial judge who originally heard the Khan fixed a minimum term of eight years but made it possible for Khan to be held indefinitely for public protection. Here is what he said:
In a reference to Khan and two other defendants, the trial judge said: "In my judgment, these offenders would remain, even after a lengthy term of imprisonment, of such a significant risk that the public could not be adequately protected by their being managed on licence in the community, subject to conditions, by reference to a preordained release date."
He added that the "safety of the public in respect of these offenders can only adequately be protected if their release on licence is decided upon, at the earliest, at the conclusion of the minimum term which I fix today."
In 2013, Khan’s original sentence was replaced by the Court of Appeals. He was given a sixteen-year sentence and automatically released. Moreover, Khan hoodwinked officials in the prison system, requesting to participate in a deradicalization course.
Khan’s lawyer hoped that his client could meet with a "specialist intervention consultancy based in the United Kingdom that focuses on rehabilitating individuals convicted of terrorist offenses.” CNN reports:
In the letter Khan writes, "As you are fully aware of my offence, which is a terrorism offence. It relates more to what I intended and the mindset at that time, also the views I carried. Which I realize now after spending some time to think were not according to Islam and its teachings."
Needless to say, Khan’s lawyer is “completely shocked” by his client’s actions.
Khan seems to have received the benefit of the doubt throughout his brush with the U.K. legal system. According to the BBC, Khan and some others convicted with him had posed “the ultimate dilemma for the authorities [which] was whether the men were simply fantasists who, hopefully, would grow up.”
Well, now we know: they meant it.
Liberal western societies have a difficult time confronting terrorism.
We want to believe that everybody can be rehabilitated–just get in a deradicalization program, okay?–and some people can.
But a lot of people can't.
Khan was not a problem that would be solved by parole officers, deradicalization courses or ankle bracelets.
He was a problem that had been solved until he was let out of prison.