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 Welcoming terrorists: it used to be called, Russian Roulette!

03.12.19. It’s a lot safer to bet on a horse or do your dough in the pokies than to put your charitable faith in the rehabilitation of known terrorists or their family members. Doing your money is rather benign compared to a decapitation in the street or the traditional bomb blast in a busy shopping centre tearing people and building into bloody shreds—wouldn’t you think? Don’t roll that dice!
Sentencing has several objectives, but when it comes to terrorism offences only one aim is appropriate: community protection. Compromising this objective for any other goal, such as rehabilitation, is breathtakingly misguided. It is for this reason the federal government should introduce a mandatory 30-year prison term for any adult convicted of a terrorism offence that involves killing or the attempted killing of another person.

Source: Mirko Bagaric for News Corp

Here’s why we must not trust ‘reformed’ terrorists

The latest London Bridge attack in which convicted terrorist Usman Khan killed two people, has sparked an urgent sentencing review in Britain. In 2013, Khan was convicted of plotting to bomb the London Stock Exchange. Incredibly, he was released late last year under a licence that involved him being subjected to electronic monitoring.
The blame game is on and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has declared that offenders who are convicted of terrorist offences should be sentenced to a minimum prison term of 14 years.
The issue of how to properly sentence terrorists is particularly acute in Australia, given the large number of people we have convicted of serious terrorism offences. More than 40 people have been convicted of terrorist acts here, including three who were sentenced last week for planning to slaughter large numbers of people in Melbourne’s CBD on Christmas Day in 2016. Surprisingly, one man received a minimum term of just 16½ years.
The Commonwealth Criminal Code enables courts to keep terrorist offenders in prison for up to three years after their sentence has expired — more than one order can be made — if courts are satisfied to a high degree of probability that the offender will commit a serious offence if released into the community. The problem with this provision is it places the burden on the prosecution to establish that the offender is likely to reoffend.
There would be no need for provisions of this nature if the sentencing of offenders for serious terrorism offences was appropriate at the outset. In determining the appropriate penalty for such crimes we need to be clear-minded about the nature of terrorism. It involves the deliberate attempt to kill innocent people — typically as many as possible, including children — to advance an ideological cause with the purpose of intimidating the public and influencing government policy.
A defining aspect of terrorism is that the act is never spontaneous. It is always planned and calculating. It aims to destroy human life wantonly, often in barbaric ways. Unlike many other crimes, there is no way for people to reduce their risk of being a victim of a terrorist event.
Pointedly, research data shows that terrorists overwhelmingly do not suffer from mental illness. Their decision deliberately to kill innocents is the most extreme example of rational cognitive disfigurement. These are people who calmly think about their life trajectory and goals, and conclude that it is not only tolerable but also desirable to go about slaughtering innocents for their cause.
Now, there is a broad spectrum of activities that the human mind is capable of believing is acceptable. But at some stage a point is reached where the wiring of some people is simply so strange and dangerous that they lose their right to participate in conventional society. They are simply too bad. Not mad, just off-the-scale bad.
Their belief system is so extreme, it is impossible to have confidence that their attitudes can be modified. They will always live outside the bounds of tolerable behaviour. Anyone capable of killing so calculatedly and randomly to achieve their objectives must be removed from the community.
Of course, there may be some terrorists who, during a long jail stint, come to their senses.
And certainly the criminal justice system should generally prioritise rehabilitation as a sentencing goal. It is in fact one of the best approaches to community protection.
Moreover, offenders generally should be punished commensurate with the seriousness of their crimes. As I have stated on this page before, we should look at greatly reducing prison numbers, perhaps by half. Let’s reserve prison for people who scare us, not those who anger us (such as white-collar offenders, low-level drug offenders and thieves).
But not a single program has been proven to be effective at changing the mindset of terrorists. This is hardly surprising given that most convicted terrorists show no remorse and most are assessed by courts as not showing good prospects of rehabilitation. Courts and parole boards are guessing when making decisions about the risk presented by convicted terrorists.
The catastrophic potential of getting these decisions wrong is too great.
The empirical data shows there is only one consideration that significantly reduces the likelihood of reoffending for most offenders. Crime, especially serious crime (apart from sexual offending), is mainly a young man’s pursuit. The average age of terrorists is the mid-20s.
The research data shows that by the time offenders reach 55 their likelihood of reoffending reduces significantly. The solution to dealing with terrorists is to ensure the penalties they receive result in them being incarcerated until they are much older.
This will help ensure that the community is protected from them for at least 30 years and that on their release they are relatively safe. Any other approach betrays the duty of care governments and courts have to us all.
Mirko Bagaric is dean of law at Swinburne University and the author of Sentencing in Australia.

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • DT 03/12/2019, 6:26 am

    Add climate emergency freaks to the list of protect society from people.

  • Cliff 03/12/2019, 6:31 am

    Last night, someone (Peta Credlin?) had an expert on TV suggesting what he (the expert) thought was the earth-shatteringly clever idea to fix this problem. That was to make the terrorist swear on the Quran that he’ll never commit a terrorist act again.

    This might appear clever to someone with just a passing knowledge of Islam, but it misses completely the not insignificant issue of taqueria, which authorises a pious Muslim to lie, cheat and virtually say anything if doing so advances the cause of Islam.

    I was amazed to hear a supposed expert (the interviewee was a professor – I missed his name) suggest something that did not take this into account.

    • Disgruntled 03/12/2019, 8:11 am

      Hi Cliff. I think the issue you are referring to is taquia and not taqueria

      “Islamic extremists don’t hesitate to lie. They embrace Taquia, the principle allowing them to lie to non-Muslims—and even the less fanatical members of their religion on behalf of violent Jihad” Much of the Islamic beliefs and goings on were quite numerous a few years ago on the web. I just had a quick search now and it seems that there is not at all as much available nowadays, one can only wonder why eh.

      Larry Pickering covered a whole lot about this a few years ago in his excellent news-blog. Sadly he passed away a little while ago. Taquia is such that no one, repeat no one can even begin to think that an Islamist can be believed because his religion doesn’t only suggest but actually encourages a believer to lie to suit their purpose.

      Another issue is the halal certification {might as well call it a tax}. And the Jizya tax. Larry had many issues put up on this as did I think Kirralie Smith and others. The whole Islam issue is certainly very worrying and who knows where it is really going, A few links to check out starting with Harry Richardson’s book, it can be read here. http://thestoryofmohammed.blogspot.com/
      Another that has a real lot of info on their menu line of buttons, believe it or not but it makes for scary reading!https://www.thereligionofpeace.com/
      An interesting news site is https://www.jihadwatch.org/

      I do think that our so called leaders do NOT give enough credence to the Islamic issues and beliefs and one really does have to wonder why!!

      • Cliff 03/12/2019, 9:01 am

        Apple auto-correct changed it, Disg.

        We might be approaching a time where the old outlaw law could be considered again. That is, when someone commits certain crimes, he or she places him/herself outside the law, and anyone may hunt him/her down without constraint.

        I know any such thing would be open to all sorts of abuse, but something will one day have to be done or we will lose everything to these people and we will see a situation here like existed in Syria for the few short years of the Islamic State.

  • Finn 03/12/2019, 6:49 am

    A crime of terror is not like an ordinary murder. Even a planned murder where community response reflects the concerns of ordinary people to varying degrees from rehabilitation to execution. Those responses are both reasoned and emotional. This reaction is both before and after the civilized laws of Australia do their work

    Acts of terror induce fear at a level which begets irrational fear. It disrupts whole communities cities and even nations long before rational or emotive thought is brought to bear.

    The Koran knows this and preaches it and it is hideously cruel.

    It’s particular cruelty is that it cuts ordinary humanity and love and desire for infants and children of ordinary Australians.

    The Koran does not spare Jewish children.

    A crime of terror should be in the same category as Baker and Crump. Papers marked – never to be released. But with the added “nor visited”.

  • Graham Richards 03/12/2019, 7:31 am

    Any one thinking or planning an act of terror must be jailed for 30 years. Mandatory sentence, no parole, no early release, no leave to attend funerals.
    The only way way out is to die in custody!

    The individuals family should be deported immediately & all assets confiscated. That’ll motivate family members to “police” the radical thinkers & inform authorities. No exceptions!

    After 3/4 convictions, loss of assets & deportations things will change!

  • Botswana O'Hooligan 03/12/2019, 8:13 am

    The death penalty fixes all of the above and it must be reintroduced, simple as that. A terrorist, a common mass murderer has no compunction about killing us en masse so why are we so reluctant to kill one of them?

    • Bwana Neusi 03/12/2019, 2:09 pm

      Absolutely spot on Botswana. I would offer them a choice as to how they meet the Moon God in their afterlife. But first a bacon sandwich.

  • Aktosplatz 03/12/2019, 8:21 am

    I would rather not consider the terrorists at all, which many seem to do, but only consider the victims and their loved ones.

    Add to that the safety of the Public, then it should be obvious what the remedial treatment is. There should be no rehabilitation of such people; we should be less concerned about their well being and focus on the Innocent in this country (and the UK) for a change.

  • Angus Walker 03/12/2019, 10:22 am

    I understand that the Israelis arrest the terrorist, if possible, then they destroy their house, no matter who else live there. They don’t mess around over there.

  • Finn 03/12/2019, 10:45 am



  • Finn 03/12/2019, 10:46 am


  • karen 03/12/2019, 1:46 pm

    “We might be approaching a time where the old outlaw law could be considered again.”

    For those readers who like to read, there’s an excellent book called The Hanging Club by Tony Parsons.
    It’s a novel but I suspect very much laced with fact. It’s about a vigilante group who abduct and hang people who have been let off lightly for their horrendous crimes and are freely roaming the streets of London.

  • Theydon Wood 03/12/2019, 2:29 pm

    No sane person invites cancer into their body, but if the cancer is found the vast majority are prepared to move hell and high water to remove it and ensure it stays removed as best as possible.
    Here endeth my analogy.

    • Finn 03/12/2019, 4:15 pm

      And a good one

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