The Daily Telegraph brings us a report that four Muslim terrorists have been caught, tried and sentenced to jail terms for plotting to blow up several important targets over Christmas (h/t Elchanan). A new directive in the British legal system allows defendants to hear how much jail time they are likely to serve in order to help them decide whether to plead guilty or not. From this report it looks like this liberal measure has backfired:
The group of four Qaeda-inspired fundamentalists admitted planning to send mail bombs to their targets during the run up to Christmas 2010 and discussed launching a Mumbai-style attack on Parliament.
But they could all be out after just six years after the two ringleaders of the group were given an indication of their sentences before deciding whether or not to plead guilty.
Mohammed Chowdhury, described as the group’s “lynchpin”, and Shah Rahman, his accomplice, pleaded guilty following a so-called Goodyear hearing where the judge gave them an indication of their maximum sentences should they plead guilty.
The two, along with fellow conspirators Gurukanth Desai, 30, and Abdul Miah, 25, admitted the charges of preparing for acts of terrorism after being made aware of the sentences they were likely to serve.
It was part of a controversial ‘Goodyear Direction’ which allows defendants to judge whether they should plead guilty, depending on the sentence they are likely to face.
Had they been opted to go to trial instead and been found guilty by a jury, they would likely have been sentenced to approximately 20 years.
But now they could be out in fewer than six years. They will be released automatically at the half-way point in their sentence and spend the remainder on licence.
They will also have a year deducted for time already spent on remand.
The multi-faceted operation these terrorists were planning was potentially enormous:
Four of the al-Qaeda inspired men were preparing a Christmas bomb attack on the London Stock Exchange, the American embassy and the home of London Mayor Boris Johnson.
Two of the men conducted a surveillance trip around central London and also talked about launching a Mumbai-style attack on Parliament.
A “target list” was found at the home of the ring-leader which listed the names and addresses of Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, as well as two Rabbis and the American Embassy. It had on it the letters ‘LXC’ for London Stock Exchange.
Adding insult to the injury of the ridiculously lenient sentencing laws of the British legal system, these terrorists are very possibly likely to recruit yet more terrorists once they begin their jail terms, for a study by the Royal United Services Institute has shown that prison is the place for beginner terrorists as well as seasoned ones.
Major sporting events such as this year’s Olympic Games could be targeted by Muslim ex-prisoners who were radicalised whilst behind bars, according to a study published in the journal of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).
It warned that up to around one in 10 of the UK’s 8,000 Muslim inmates were being successfully targeted by extremists inside jail and could form the next generation of terrorists.
Michael Clarke, director of RUSI and co-author of the 2010 study, said: “Perhaps some 800 potentially violent radicals, not previously guilty of terrorism charges, will be back in society over the coming five to ten years …
The report warned that radicalisation was taking place particularly rapidly in the eight high-security prisons where terrorists are usually detained.
And yet some British judges have drawn the exactly wrong conclusions from this report:
Three judges, including Lord Phillips, the then Lord Chief Justice, warned that excessive prison sentences could boost support for extremists.
“Care has to be taken to ensure that the sentence was not disproportionate to the facts of the particular offences,” the judges said as they reduced the sentence of Abdul Rahman, who was convicted of disseminating terrorist propaganda in Nov 2007.
“If sentences were imposed which were more severe than the circumstances of the particular case warranted, that would be likely to inflame rather than deter extremism,” they added.
I beg to differ m’Lud. If the extremists received extreme sentences it might make them and their followers think twice before embarking on yet more terrorism. His Lordship’s recommendations are nothing but appeasement.