As Britain undergoes a hotly contested parliamentary election, it was revealed that the attacker who stabbed two people to death on London Bridge had been released from prison after serving time for terrorism offenses.
Usman Khan was shot to death by police after being wrestled to the ground by bystanders. The 28-year-old resident of Kashmir was convicted in 2012 of taking part in an al-Qaeda-inspired plot to blow up the London Stock Exchange.
He was originally given an “indeterminate” sentence — a tool to protect the public from terrorists. But that sentence was overturned in 2013 and Khan was to serve at least eight years of a new 16-year fixed sentence. He was released in December 2018 subject to conditions.
Incredibly, Khan addressed a conference near the Bridge on criminal rehabilitation just prior to his deadly attack.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who faces a snap election on December 12, said it was a terrorist attack and vowed to end a practice whereby serious offenders can be automatically let out of prison early, as the opposition attacked the policy.
“This individual was known to authorities, having been convicted in 2012 for terrorism offences,” Britain’s top counter-terrorism police officer, Neil Basu, said in a statement. “Clearly, a key line of inquiry now is to establish how he came to carry out this attack.”
Not surprisingly, the Labor Party sought to exploit the tragedy for political gain.
The opposition Labour Party criticised the government’s record on crime.
“There are big questions that need to be answered,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan, the most senior opposition politician in Britain in a position of power, told Sky News.
“One of the important tools judges had when it came to dealing with dangerous, convicted criminals … was their ability to give an indeterminate sentence to protect the public,” he said. “(That) was taken away from them by this government.”
This was not the fault of the judge who recognized Khan’s potential for violence full well.
The judge who sentenced Khan at the time warned he was a “serious jihadist” who should not be released while he and his co-conspirators remained a threat to the public.
“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.”
What should civilization do with those who are at war with it? It’s incomprehensible that there is much of a debate about locking these people away for life. “Rehabilitation” is a pipe dream. If you’re not going to execute them or deport them, it should be the solemn duty of the government to make sure its citizens are protected from those who would harm them.
We’ve seen this all too often in Europe: terrorists known to authorities for their desire to inflict harm on as many innocents as possible. Until we get serious about the threat these jihadists pose, more families will needlessly suffer because of the spinelessness of the political elites.