According to Reuters — this was on news spread on the Internet — which in turn referred to reporting in the Washington Post (not spotted in today’s paper but, like justice, I could be blind), British police agencies have identified a notorious jihad man as the scion of a wealthy Arab, Muslim — Kuwaiti, as it happens, now there’s gratitude for you — family that has taken up residence in London. The fellow speaks with a Brit accent, has a good education. However, education does not always guarantee good citizenship, and he is believed to be the executioner of American, British, and Japanese nationals seen in recent videos. He is a killer, a serial mass murderer.
Note, first, that to call him a serial mass murderer is not ipso facto to try to depict him as any worse than the rest: they are all, until proven otherwise, mass murderers. Given these people’s motives, capabilities, and declared intentions, it is well within the rules of warfare to obliterate them from the air, despite the devastation this causes to surrounding areas. This is a matter for military tacticians.
But the legal question, which concerns anyone who is concerned to preserve the rule of law that undergirds free societies, is this. If the police authorities in Britain have identified this individual and know who his family and friends (if he has any) are, should they not be under arrest or at least under investigation for complicity in murder and terrorism? Should their residence permits not be revoked, unless they are charged with capital crimes in which case of course they should become permanent residents of the Tower.
Moreover, it may be asked whether the U.S. Justice Department can move, perhaps already has moved, toward an indictment of these people on charges of complicity in murder, terrorism, rape, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and specifically the cold-blooded murder of Americans? It should be asked, too, whether the European legal system, their court of human rights in particular, has made a move.
There surely are legal issues here, which can be debated. However, laws against conspiracy to commit crimes exist in every civilized nation. In wartime, it is normally a crime to bring aid of any kind to the enemy. In a reasonable perspective, individuals in this person’s family and social circles ought to be viewed as prima facie suspect. Bail can be set at heights beyond their reach or, in a pinch, habeas corpus can be overlooked.
No one should be accused in haste. Evidence must be found linking A with B, as in any criminal case. The suspects should not be interrogated in anything but the most civil manner. Nor need there be any precipitation to make use of these people as hostages. On the other hand, wartime requires warlike measures, and maybe it is these ordinary civilized reflexes that should give us pause.
Consider — strictly as an abstract idea, of course — what might follow if, suddenly, in the heat of the night, hundreds, thousands of immigrants, or children of immigrants, from those umma lands, were rounded up and held, somewhere. The caliphate men in northern Mesopotamia and other zones would say, “Told you so! Proves our point about the Crusaders and the Jews! Onward under the Prophet’s banner!” They are, however, saying this already. More interesting would be the reaction of Muslim immigrants to the lands of freedom, Britain, U.S., France, etc. What would they do? They might reconsider their career plans. Or they might rise to the challenge and show their true colors. If prepared adequately, law enforcement and security agencies might well benefit from such a lowering of the din and the fog that envelops all policy making in democratic regimes. Which under normal circumstances is a positive, freedom of debate and all, but in these? In these, we might want it to be put starkly: Choose your side.
Indeed, the recent arrest of alleged terrorists in Brooklyn may provide us with an opportunity to show our allies in the GWAT that we are as good as our intentions, at least sometimes. It is not yet known just how extensive a network New York’s finest got its hands on, but, barring tactical considerations for getting to the source of these criminals’ hierarchies, what is to prevent our law enforcement from scooping up every last suspected acquaintance or contact of these enemies of our greatest city?
According to the Wall Street Journal, an attorney for one of the Brooklyn conspirators complained that his client was interrogated without counsel present; moreover, the WSJ reports, the lawyer criticized the use of government informants. This is surreal, but at least it shows we are a nation of laws and due process. Still, one expects the Brooklyn D.A. is at work finding out how to put this lawyer hors de combat, too, or at least on the grill.
On the grill may be more urgent. The terror networks, as the reporting makes clear, use the internet’s “social networks” for recruitment and planning. The bad guys have got to be wise to the ability of law enforcement to get on their trails through these death-wish channels. They are sometimes slow on the uptake, as was seen in France and Denmark earlier this year, but that is mainly a spur for improved command, control, and attack procedures. In the meantime, lawyers sometimes know more than they let on. Let’s get on these defenders of the indefensible and make them talk.
As TAS has suggested in the past, there is a strong case to be made for a commander with the élan and focus of Curtis LeMay to lead the war against the Muslims who declared war on the world, including most of their own people. Such a leader not only would know how to identify the enemy and call him by his correct name, he would inspire others — including, in particular, law-enforcement agencies in London, New York, and beyond — to go about their own versions of eradication with all the energy, perspicacity, and courage that the crisis calls for.