U.S. and UK Must Hang Together in Face of Terror

This might seem contrary to the values of an open society. Isn’t Islam4UK analogous to the Nazi group which, aided by the ACLU, won the right to march through Skokie? The crucial difference is that there is no real threat from Nazis, whereas the Western world actually is at war with Islamists.

Choudary claims he is exercising free speech, yet eleven members of organizations under his leadership have been convicted of crimes including “soliciting murder,” “inciting people to commit acts of terrorism overseas,” and terrorist fundraising. Two other men who planned attacks were members of his groups.

Hopefully Wootton Bassett is the start of a full-scale rebuke of extremism. The day before Johnson announced the ban, five men were convicted of inciting violence at a parade of troops returning from Afghanistan. Britain’s government may finally understand that protecting democracy does not mean that we must engage in a suicide pact with our enemies.

Unfortunately, the U.S. is losing that understanding. After his thwarted bombing attempt, Abdulmutallab was read his Miranda rights, as though his actions were merely criminal. And why not treat him as a common criminal, when the administration insists that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed should be tried in a federal court rather than a military tribunal?

President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair were not always politically on the same page, but they understood the U.S. and UK need to band together to protect the free world. Churchill called this the “special relationship.” While conscious of constitutional rights, they were not afraid to call terrorism by its real name and to act to thwart it.

The current relationship between the two governments is strained. In recent months, the U.S. has irked the British by directly securing an arrangement with Bermuda to import Chinese Uighurs previously detained at Guantanamo. The Brits have upset the U.S. by freeing the convicted Lockerbie bomber and agreeing to talks with Hezbollah.

But in famous words passed down from the American founding, if we do not hang together, we shall surely hang separately. The U.S. and UK must cooperate and strike a more sensible balance between liberties and self-protection in order to defeat our common enemy.