Archive for the 'War on Terror' Category

Karadžić finally arrested!

The BBC is reporting that the Bosnian-Serb war criminal Radovan Karadžić has been arrested by Serbian government forces. For his many victims it will not have come a moment too soon. Barely a week ago Bosnians were marking the 13th anniversary of the Srebrenicia Massacre [ABS-CBN News].

It’s interesting that the Serbian government has managed to arrest him now. Perhaps they have genuinely decided it’s time to play ball with the international community and the war crimes tribunal at the Hague? Or maybe it’s more than just co-incidence that just last week EU forces raided the homes of Karadzic’s family members [], including his wife. Perhaps the Serbs realised that the noose was tightening and the game was up? It’s certainly remarkable considering that earlier today the Serbs were still busy denying knowledge of Karadzic’s whereabouts [] and even suggesting that he might not be in Serbia.

The important thing now, of course, is that the Serbian authorities should speedily extradite Karadžić to the Hague and not put him on some cushy sham trial in Sebria. They also need to serve up the remaining indictees still at-large, especially Ratko Mladić [Wikipedia].

In the longer term the opportunity should be used to finally close the chapter on ethnic divisions in Bosnia. Karadžić’s brother was quoted earlier this month as saying that the arrests of the war time Bosnian-Serb leaders would lead to the collapse of the Republika Srpska []. And good riddance too! The Bosnian-Serb enclave [Wikipedia], was created through ethnic cleansing; it’s legitimisation by Daytan [Wikipedia] a travesty of natural justice. I shalln’t have any sympathy for it’s demise and assimilation back into the rest of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Update: Al-Jazeera’s Aljosa Milenkovic speculates that this turn of events is down to the new (pro-Western) Serbian government’s willingness to work with the international community. He says he expects to see Karadžić in the Hague’s dock “within seven days“. Excellent news, if true.

Pre-charge detention: a simple question

In the UK police can detain, without charge a suspect in a terrorism case for 28 days. In the USA the police can only do so for 7 days. Why do we need four times the pre-charge detention period when no-one will sensibly argue that we have four times the threat of terrorism?

I’ve put the question to Opposition spokesmen as well as a Home Office minister and never got an answer. With all the other new law enforcement powers proposed (post-charge questioning, admissibility of intercept evidence in court and, most importantly, extra resources so the police can investigate quickly) shouldn’t we be thinking about reducing detention without trial back down to 7 days, not increasing it further?

Finally – UK requests return of British residents at Guantanamo

It’s taken four years but finally the government has requested the return of UK residents held in legal limbo in Guantanamo Bay:

The UK government has requested the release of five British residents from US custody at Guantanamo Bay.

Source: UK Seeks Guantanamo men release [BBC News].

Of course, there is actually a sixth British resident being held by the US authorities at Guantanamo. No reason has been given as to why the new British request does not cover him. So there may still be more work to do. Nevertheless this is a very positive development.

Some of this will but put down to a change in Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary in the UK, and I’m sure that that has had an impact. Yet I wonder to what extent its also down to the ongoing shift in attitudes in Washington DC, where for some time now they’ve indicated a desire to be rid of Guantanamo?

Forced marriages cause terrorism?

I’ve not heard yet heard a convincing explanation as to what causes young Muslim men, apparently integrated into British society, to become terrorist nut jobs. But no suggestion I’ve seen has been as bizarre as this one from Hassan Butt.

“A lot of the guys I know actually have become radicalized or initially took the first steps … as a result of them being … forced to marry someone they don’t want to marry,” Butt told CBS.
Their refusal to submit to their parents’ traditions, he noted, drove them toward radical preachers.
He said that the mastermind of London bombings was himself a victim of a forced marriage.

Source: British Muslim Renounces Violence []

Is he serious? As a self-confessed reformed terrorist sympathiser I suppose he has some credibility in coming up with a hypothesis but it does seem rather surreal to me.

On the other hand, I can see the logic in his argument: many immigrant Muslim parents attempt to impose traditions on their children that are at best, cultural and at worst, anti-Islamic, in the name of Islam. When those children rebel, it’s inevitable that they would, at least temporarily, reach for the other extreme. I would have expected that extreme to be Hizb-ut-Tahrir, rather than Al Qaeda, but I guess in some cases they might actually get pushed that far.

The overall picture is almost certainly more complicated than the simple line of argument Butt is quoted as presenting. Nevertheless it may be a line of investigation worthy of scholarship.

The positive aspect of this story, however, is that Butt does appear to have grown up and renounced violence. In doing so he demonstrates that at least some of those nutters are actually capable of finding some sense. I suppose that gives us a small glimmer of hope.