Always the victim. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to murder 289 people on a jetliner on Christmas Day 2009 by detonating a bomb hidden in his underwear, has filed a prison lawsuit. His complaint says that the Colorado Supermax prison where he is held prohibits him from “having any communication whatsoever with more than 7.5 billion people, the vast majority of people on the planet.”
Also, he says that prison rules “severely restrict his ability to practice religion” with his fellow Muslims.
In October 2011, Abdulmutallab pled guilty to eight criminal charges. He said in a statement to the court:
In late 2009, in fulfillment of a religious obligation, I decided to participate in jihad against the United States. The Koran obliges every able Muslim to participate in jihad and fight in the way of Allah, those who fight you, and kill them wherever you find them, some parts of the Koran say, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.
The Koran does indeed say “fight those who fight you and kill them wherever you find them” (2:191), as well as “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (5:45). Abdulmutallab added:
Participation in jihad against the United States is considered among the most virtuous of deeds in Islam and is highly encouraged in the Koran; however, according to U.S. law, which is unjust and oppressive according to the Koran, my actions make me guilty of a crime in the United States, in particular, the following counts in my indictment.
The United States — the United States should be warned that if they continue and persist in promoting the blasphemy of Muhammad and the prophets, peace be upon them all, and the U.S. continues to kill and support those who kill innocent Muslims, then the U.S. should await a great calamity that will befall them through the hands of the mujahideen soon by God’s willing permission. Or God will strike them directly with a great calamity soon by his will, Amin.
If you laugh at us now, we will laugh at you later in this life and on the day of judgment by God’s will, and our final call is all praise to Allah, the lord of the universe, Allahu Akbar.
With this statement, Abdulmutallab removed any possibility that officials could consign him to the ranks of the “mentally ill,” or claim they were still trying to figure out his motive. His motive could not be clearer: he tried to commit mass murder to further the cause of Islam.
Now he is suing over supposedly not being able to practice Islam in prison. Yet by his own account, Islam is what led him to try to commit mass murder in the first place.
Do prisons allow Nazi inmates to have Mein Kampf study groups? Shouldn’t prison officials be discouraging, not encouraging, Abdulmutallab’s adherence to the belief system that landed him in prison?
This case presents what appears to be an insuperable dilemma. If Abdulmutallab were a neo-Nazi, or a white supremacist, or a Ku Klux Klansman, and had tried to commit mass murder to further his nefarious cause, prison officials would do nothing to encourage his adherence to that cause. They would most likely actively discourage his continued loyalty to it.
But in this case, it was a religion that drove Abdulmutallab to try to commit mass murder — and the U.S. protects the freedom of religion. So even though Islam’s teachings incited him to attempt an act of savage violence, Abdulmutallab must be allowed to practice Islam in prison, right?
This case demonstrates how urgently it must be reemphasized that the freedom of religion is not a license to break other laws.
The First Amendment freedom of religion is not a free pass to commit murder or rape or theft, or to practice polygamy or female genital mutilation, just because one’s religion allows for these things.
This is a commonsense principle, but it is being ignored these days.
Two Muslim doctors on trial in Detroit for practicing female genital mutilation are actually mounting a defense based on the freedom of religion. If they win, it will become immensely difficult to prosecute — much less imprison — people such as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Their religion commanded them to commit a crime, and that’s that.
In reality, if Colorado’s Supermax is restricting Abdulmutallab’s ability to practice Islam with other Muslims, that’s a good thing. Maybe he won’t get a chance to try to convert them into murderous fanatics like himself.