Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Politics of Fear - Abu Hamza

Daniel Johnson has an excellent article in the NYSun today about the politics of Abu Hamza's conviction. Unfortunately only a small portion of it is available online. So I've had to resort to the old fashioned method of typing it in, rather than cutting and pasting.
The importance of Hamza's trial, owever, transcends his own role as the demoagogic imam of Finsbury Park Mosque. It is hard to overestimate the significance of the fact that, after four weeks of evidence, a British jury did find Hamza guilty. Several times similar trials have collapsed because juries are reluctant to convict, especially where new anti-terrorist laws are invoked. In the present atmosphere of moral panic, neither juries nor judges neither policemen nor politicians are prepared to stand up to islamist intimidation. The Abu Hamza trial could - indeed must - mark a turning point.

One thing, and one thing only, is feeding the Islamist attempt to bully the West. It is fear: fear of terrorism, fear of the mob, fear of an implacable, fanatical foe, internal as well as external You can sense the fear every time European governments fail to show solidarity in response to a deliberate provocation, such as burning embassies in Damascus, or Holocaust denial in Teheran.
The London Times makes a similar point about the jailing of Hamza:
One of the unanswered questions relates to why Abu Hamza was not prosecuted earlier. Police and MI5 had been watching him for years. Yet he was initially arrested on an extradition request from US authorities, and only subsequently charged by their British counterparts. The verdict will perhaps encourage officers to intervene more promptly in cases where radical clerics are abusing their position to rally their flocks to hatred and killing.

Though I have to say I'm fairly confused about why Hamza was arrested on hate speech and incitement to murder, as opposed to charges on the possession of the various and sundry illegal weapons found at the Finsbury Mosque. Perhaps someone who understands this area of British law could explain this issue to me. American Prosecutors seem thoroughly devoted to overcharging people at trial rather than undercharging them, that it is hard to understand why a battery of weapons charges were not also added.
After today's trial the Metropolitan Police released for the first time photographs of items seized from the mosque in January 2003 as part of a separate inquiry into a terrorist plot.

The items have never been unveiled so as not to prejudice proceedings against Abu Hamza, but include CS spray, a stun gun, three blank firing pistols, a dummy gun, a chemical warfare suit and hundreds of blank forms, passports, credit cards and cheque books.

And here is the link to an article about Abu Hamza from his ex wife's perspective, which provides information on the development of a radical.


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