A new generation of terrorists is groomed in UK jails

4 UK terrorists

The four Islamic terrorists sentenced for bomb plot

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.

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12 Responses to A new generation of terrorists is groomed in UK jails

  1. Earl says:

    “Three-hots-and-a-cot, and unlimited Koranic study and dawa’a for six years, and then released back on to benefits and on parole? All at the expense of the khufr taxpayer???

    SIGN ME UP!”

    /channeling Mohammedan fundi in the UK.
    /”7/8? 7/9? Summit like tha'” muse England’s erstwhile and learned Law Lords…

  2. Sam says:

    Hi Anne,

    This isn’t really a comment on your post per se, but I think that you’ve been seriously misled by the Telegraph’s use of statistics in this story. If you’d indulge me, I’d like to explain why.

    To see what they’ve done, you need to know two things:
    1. In the UK, you serve 50% of a prison sentence in jail and 50% ‘on license’ which means you go free subject to conditions. You can form your own view on whether this is right or not.
    2. In the UK, you get a 33% discount on your sentence if you plead guilty. This is the law and applies to terrorists as much as anybody else. You can form your own view on whether this is right or not.

    These men received (around about) 13 year sentences which equates to about six years of jailtime (after rounding and accounting for the year they spent on remand). This fact is reported in the headline.

    But then, when the article reports the sentence they would have got if they were found guilty their sentence would have been ‘approximately 20 years.’ Conveniently, the author has neglected to mention rule #1 which turns this ’20 year sentence’ into 10 years of jailtime.

    So then when we consider the two possible sentences side by side – Guilty plea = 13 years (6 in jail) / found Guilty = 20 years (10 in jail) – we can see that actually all the court has done here is properly applied rule #2. There’s been no lenient treatment or appeasement here, the court has simply followed the same rules which apply to every defendant up and down the country every day of the week.

    • anneinpt says:

      Sam, thank you for your explanation and welcome to my blog.

      Newspapers are indeed notoriously inaccurate when it comes to statistics. However, even though, as you say, the sentences handed down were not especially lenient towards the terrorists, i.e. no more lenient than to any other criminal, I still wanted to point out the absurdity of this.

      I also think it ridiculous that Lord Phillips is concerned that harsh sentences will incur yet more terrorism. That attitude is the epitome of appeasement, which as bitter experience has shown us, does not help in any event.

      • Sam says:

        Hi Anne,

        I don’t think that Lord Phillips was arguing for appeasement or suggesting that we keep terrorists out of jail. He certainly wasn’t throwing his weight behind the RUSI report which was published several years after he spoke (in July 2008).

        Lord Phillips said:

        “Care has to be taken to ensure that the sentence was not disproportionate to the facts of the particular offences,”


        “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,”

        Notice that in both quotes, he is arguing that sentences should not be excessive – he is not arguing that sentences should be harsh or that terrorists should not be given long prison terms, just that the punishment should match the crime. This is just a general rule of sentencing – I don’t think that murderers or rapists should receive excessive or disproportionate sentences, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t go to jail for a long time.

        Phillips also argued for giving severe ‘deterrant’ sentences to terrorists in the same paragraph but this is not mentioned in the Telegraph article:

        “It is true that terrorist acts are usually extremely serious and that sentences for
        terrorist offences should reflect the need to deter others.”

        In my view, his comments are careful and measured and do not reflect an attitude of appeasement which, frankly, I don’t believe exists.

        I’m sorry if I appear confrontational – that’s not my intention – I think that by changing the context of some innocous quotes, the Telegraph has distorted some essentially sensible and unobjectionable quotes. The alternative to Lord Phillps approach would seem to be to give out sentences which do not match the facts of the case which logically seems absurd.

        I suppose my suggestion to you would be to buy a different paper.

        *Phillip’s quotes were made in the context of a Court of Appeal judgment given on 8 July 2008 in the case of R v Abdul Rahman. You can access it at http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Crim/2008/1465.html The Telegraph quotes are from paragraph 8.

        • anneinpt says:

          Apologies Sam. Your comment got caught in my spam filter for no earthly reason.

          I accept that you may very well be right about Lord Phillips. I can only judge by what the Telegraph wrote and/or implied, and you are also very possibly correct that the paper was sensationalizing Lord Philips’ words for its own ratings.

          Assuming that to be the case, then I apologise to Lord Phillips for considering him an appeaser. That is simply the way his words came across from the article. You don’t need to apologise for being confrontational – I didn’t feel any ill-will from you – and debate is the lifeblood of this blog.

          I suppose my suggestion to you would be to buy a different paper.

          LOL! I don’t actually buy the paper, just read it online. I actually like to read papers which do not agree with my point of view – it makes life more interesting and gives me more material for my blog! :-).

          Seriously, as a rule, the Telegraph is the least bad of the UK’s newspapers, at least regarding its Middle East reporting, though there have been some bumps along the way recently.

  3. bill says:

    anneinpt says:
    3 February 2012 at 09:24 am
    SIGN ME UP!”

    Silly Earl. First you gotta blow something up. Or at least plan to…I have a few suggestions :-p

    Watchit Anne, it’s talk like that that got these blokes banged up

    • cba says:

      Oh right, they got arrested because they made a joking remark (complete with a “joke” emoticon) on a blog. No other reason at all…

    • anneinpt says:

      Nah, I’m not worried. First of all I was clearly joking, as you can tell from the smiley. Secondly, I’m 2,000 miles away.
      thirdly, these guys weren’t banged up for joking about bombing (as has indeed happened to innocent civilians at airport security checks around the world0 but they were actually conspiring to bomb targets.

      In any event, welcome to my blog!

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