The PJ Tatler

Who’s Watching the Jails?

A one-eyed, hook-handed cleric has caught Britain’s attention – this time for a rant from inside his jail cell. It’s a major problem of European democracies; but, before we get too high on our horse, it’s also a concern for the good-old US of A.

Abu Hamza, who ran one of London’s largest mosques, was convicted and sentenced on charges of inciting murder and race hate. He is also wanted in America on suspicion that he was helping to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon. Although his extradition has been shot down by Europe’s highest court, which was concerned about the “inhuman or degrading treatment” he might face in American “supermax” prison, Abu Hamza managed to phone a former terrorist to broadcast yet another message of hate. His friend, a man with old ties to the terrorist organization Egyptian Islamic Jihad, taped his ranting session and broadcast it on Youtube.

Ironically, the European High Court was concerned that Abu Hamza might be a victim of America’s ‘cruel and unusual’ system of solitary confinement. But, rather than stop him from continuing the same messages that got him into jail, the British jail system became his new pulpit to the world outside.

It’s a familiar problem in Europe. The US spent 4 years arguing with Spain to designate and isolate a Spanish al-Qaeda member serving time for 9/11. Madrid’s failure to act allowed Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas to finance terror and recruit locals to fight in Iraq, all from the comfort of his 10 by 10.

While we are shaking our head at Europe, we should be asking ourselves questions about why a convicted terrorist’s letters and poems are ending up on Islamist websites broadcasting jihad (see here, here and here). On November 15th, 2010, Tarek Mehanna, wrote from Plymouth Correctional Facility – Isolation Unit – Cell #108:

And the Romes of today at whose hands we’re abused,
Who preach to us values from which they’re self-excused,
How similar the tools of repression they used,
The tyrants of past and present are ever fused; …

In a repeat of that reality uncouth,
Imagine he stood and struggled for the same truth,
And had the same impact on society’s youth,
Would they not once again fight this man nail & tooth?

If these letters are real, shouldn’t it be enough to embarrass us at least as much as our Atlantic neighbors?