October 15, 2001

Who’s Harbouring Terrorists?


Bin Laden probably bombed the World Trade Centre. The Americans want to interview him. Afghanistan will not extradite him. America bombs Afghanistan. Simple really. America feels, rightly, that Bin Laden is a threat and also feels, rightly, that he needs to be fried. What about Amar Makhlulif and Lofti Raissi? Never heard of them? Well thatís because they are not running training camps in Kabul, instead they are being held in prison in Britain. And Britain, Americaís biggest ally, is refusing to give these terrorists up more adamantly than the Afghan mullahs.


You see, Britain is being less cooperative because "some American states insist on the death penalty". Hence we refuse to send suspects abroad. Doesnít that qualify us Brits as one of "those who aid terrorists" in President Bushís phrase? The tortuous reasoning is that the European Convention of Human Rights forbids the death penalty, America has the death penalty, and so no court can send a suspect to America if they may get executed. Already Jamaican gangsters, known as "yardies" come over to Britain when the Jamaican police look too interested, as Jamaica has the death penalty. That, and the stupidly restrictive gun laws, is why London has seen an explosion of gun crime. Now, I have already spilt ink on the death penalty (for) and the Human Rights convention (against) and I donít intend to do so again. If you want to see my views in more detail just follow the links.


Isnít this refusal to extradite, well, hypocritical? You see it is Britain that is firing missiles against Afghanistan for, ahem, harbouring terrorists. And by refusing to extradite terrorists, what precisely are we doing? Compare this to the mad ramblings of Bill Buckley who says we must invade Iraq, regardless of whether they had anything to do with the World Trade Centre. Now, if you are going to stop terrorism, why not get your allies to give a good example? Bombing, naturally, would not be welcome.


Letís be clear about this. These people are suspected terrorists and they are going to a country that will try them relatively fairly. There is no question that the Europeans find the trials unfair (they are willing to extradite as long as America waives its rights to execute them). The Europeans have the problem with Americaís democratically chosen method of punishing vile murderers, a method of punishment that is none of our damn business when applied to non-nationals on foreign territory. Ironically, the view of the British public is fairly robust, as far as theyíre concerned the terrorists could boil in oil. Even the British governmentís hands are tied on this issue, in the unlikely event that they would want to help, as the government has signed up to the European Convention of Human Rights, which forbids the death penalty. Judges in Britain interpret that to mean that this overrides extradition treaties with stable democracies. It seems that Bin Ladenís biggest mistake was to stay in Afghanistan, if he had stayed in Britain then we would have provided him with a safer haven than the Afghans would.


Iím not with the kumbaya crowd on Afghanistan. Although I donít see any benefit in rebuilding the country, and I think that high civilian casualties would be foolhardy, I think that America is perfectly within her rights to blast out Bin Laden as soon as possible. However, heís not the only dangerous terrorist around. When I last wrote about European attitudes towards the death penalty, I noted that it was ironic that many of those who were most enthusiastic for bombing foreign civilians were most shrill in opposing the death penalty. It now seems that those very same warmongers are prepared to bomb innocent civilians with abandon to extradite one terrorist, but to refuse to extradite another suspect terrorists. Anyone who thinks like that is simply vile.

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Emmanuel Goldstein is the pseudonym of a political drifter on the fringes of English classical liberal and Euro-sceptic activity. He is a former member of the Labour Party, who knows Blair and some of his closest buddies better than they realise, yet. He has a challenging job in the real world, working for a profit-making private company and not sponging off the taxpayer in politics, journalism or the civil service. "Airstrip One," appears Mondays at Antiwar.com.

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