Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Homegrown  terrorists  should  lose  their  citizenship


Every once in a while, we learn about homegrown terrorists living in Canada and leaving our country to fight as terrorists in other countries.  If they survive their terrorist acts and want to return to Canada, should we permit them to return? If they are landed immigrants and haven’t obtained their Canadian citizenship, the answer is easy to arrive at. Simply refuse to let them back into Canada. But suppose they are citizens, what do we do with them when they intend to come back to Canada or the United States?


In 2006, Uzair Paracha, a Brooklyn resident, was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison after he was convicted of attempting to help al-Qaeda operative Majid Khan enter the United States to attack gas tanks in a plot developed alongside 9/11 planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. In early 2003, Paracha impersonated Khan in dealings with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and agreed to use Khan's credit card to make it appear Khan was in the United States rather than in Pakistan. He also was in possession of several identification documents in Khan's name, and written instructions from Khan on how to pose as Khan in dealing with the INS. Paracha was found guilty in 2005 on charges including conspiracy to provide and providing material support to al-Qaeda; conspiracy to provide, and providing funds, goods, or services to al-Qaeda; and identification document fraud committed to facilitate an act of international terrorism. Majid Khan pleaded guilty in February 2012 in a military court at Guantanamo to charges stemming from his involvement with al-Qaeda and admitted to the gas tank plot, planning to assassinate Pakistan's President Musharraf, and complicity in a 2003 bombing of a Marriot hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia. The NYPD cooperated with federal authorities through the Joint Terrorism Task Force to uncover Paracha's plan.


Afghan-born Colorado-raised, Najibullah Zazi, participated in a bomb plot. He was arrested in September 2009 as part of the 2009 Al Qaeda group in the U.S. accused of planning suicide bombings on the New York City Subway system. Zazi underwent weapons and explosives training at an al-Qaeda training camp in Pakistan in 2008. On September 9, 2009, he drove from his home in Aurora, Colorado, to New York City, intending to detonate explosives on the New York City subway during rush hour as one of three coordinated suicide ‘martyrdom’ bombings. Spooked, however, by surveillance by U.S. intelligence, and warned by a local imam that the authorities were inquiring about him; he abruptly flew back to Colorado. He was arrested days later.


The American authorities also arrested imam Ahmad Wais Afzali, who was charged with and convicted of lying to the FBI about a conversation in which Afzali informed Zazi he was under surveillance.


On February 22, 2010, Zazi pleaded guilty to conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction, conspiring to commit murder in a foreign country, and providing material support to a terrorist organization. He said he was recruited by al-Qaeda in Pakistan for a suicide ‘martyrdom’ attack against the U.S., and that his bombing target was the New York City subway system. Zazi faces a possible life sentence without possibility of parole for the first two counts, and an additional sentence of 15 years for the third count. Sentencing was initially scheduled to take place on June 24, 2011. As far as I could ascertain, it appears that he hasn’t been sentenced yet.  He may not get life in prison because he turned on his fellow terrorists but he will get a long sentence.


Adis Medunjanin, 28, one of Zazi’s co-defendants who was born in Bosnia and grew up in Queens, USA, was considered the heart and soul of a terrorist plot—though not its mastermind.  He was however a homegrown terrorist whose increasingly radical beliefs in Islam inspired him and two high school friends to participate in jihad. They went to Pakistan with the hope of joining the Taliban in the fight against American troops and they wound up at a training camp run by Al Qaeda. Being trained in such a camp by itself is punishable with ten years in prison in the U.S.

Judge John Gleeson politely interrupted once, telling Medunjanin that while the life sentence was mandatory for a conviction for plotting to use an explosive device, he had the opportunity to argue for leniency on other counts. But Medunjanin, who maintained throughout the trial that he was never part of the subway bombing plot, followed his Koran recitations by quoting them aloud.                                                                                           

Judge Gleeson said.  “You’re asking me to sentence you like the committed, anti-American jihadist you want to be for the rest of your life.” The judge added another 95 years to the mandatory life sentence he gave this terrorist.

An accountant who scoped out the New York Stock Exchange as a potential target for al Qaeda was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Sabirhan Hasanoff, a dual U.S. and Australian citizen living in New York, provided financial support to al Qaeda and conducted surveillance of the New York Stock Exchange in 2008.

A London, Ontario man jailed in North Africa for his alleged links to a terrorist group returned to Canada in July 2013 after serving 18 months in a Mauritania prison. Aaron Yoon was arrested in Mauritania in December 2011 and sentenced to prison after being convicted of having ties to an al-Qaeda-affiliated group. There are also questions about how Yoon and schoolmates Ali Medlej and Xristos Katsiroubas were allegedly radicalized, and by whom. Medlej and Katsiroubas were killed in an al-Qaeda-linked terrorist attack on an Algerian gas plant that killed 39 hostages. As far as I know, he hasn’t been charged by the police in Canada. This probably because he had already served a sentence because of his ties to al-Qaeda and for this reason, he can’t be sentenced for the same crime again.

In his high school yearbook photo, Xris Katsiroubas was an awkward-looking teenager from London, Ontario with short-cropped hair, a baby face and the logo of the Greek national soccer team on his Adidas shirt. While the details remained sketchy, a familiar sequence of events emerged. After undergoing a religious conversion, he ventured overseas and ended up linked to an Islamist terrorist group. Katsiroubas was reportedly one of 29 attackers whose bodies were found following a four-day siege at the Amenas gas plant in January 2013. The attack was orchestrated by the al-Qaeda-linked Algerian terrorist Mokhtar Belmokhtar.

Canadian officials believe the unnamed terrorist identified by a Norwegian oil company as a ‘clear leader’ in January’s attack on an Algerian gas plant was Ali Medlej, 24, a Beirut-born Canadian citizen.  He too was killed in the attack. He was also a school chum of Katsiroubas and Yoon.

These terrorists were homegrown terrorists who had everything going for them when they lived in the U.S. and Canada respectively but chose to become terrorists rather than live the lives of decent law-biding men. Their desire to kill human beings resulted in two of these seven terrorist being killed themselves, four of them serving long prison sentences and one of them serving a short prison sentence of 18 months.

The question that gnaws on my mind is why were the four men who survived the terrorist activities permitted to return to the United States or remain in the US and Canada? Terrorists owe no allegiance to the countries they live in when they leave those countries to commit acts of terrorism in other countries or the countries they actually live in. What the governments should have done was to rescind their citizenships so that they would remain in the countries they chose to commit terrorist acts in as stateless persons. Once they have served their sentences of imprisonment in those countries, they can apply for a UN refugee travel document in hopes that any other country will accept them.

A refugee travel document (also called a 1951 Convention travel document or Geneva passport) is a travel document issued to a refugee by the state in which she or he normally resides allowing him or her to travel outside that state and to return there. Refugees are unlikely to be able to obtain passports from their state of nationality (from which they have sought asylum) and therefore need travel documents so that they might engage in international travel. The last state the terrorists were in could be the state where they would apply for a UN travel document.

If they sneak back into the country they left to commit acts of terrorism, then they should be imprisoned for five years and then booted out again. If they do it again, they should be imprisoned for ten years and then booted out again.  Further, they should serve the full term of imprisonment before being booted out of the country. Canada has had people who were booted out of Canada sneak back in again more than two times because they weren't punished for doing it for their second illegal entry into Canada.

I am convinced I speak for the Americans as well as my fellow Canadians when I say that we really don’t want these sub humans walking our streets and living amongst us. As I see it, they have forfeited their rights to claim citizenships in our countries when they chose to kill human beings as terrorists.

If you really believe that they will reform, then you are naïve. Many of them who were released by the Americans later continued to be terrorists. I personally would never trust a terrorist’s word that he wouldn’t commit the crime of terrorism again. Perhaps some will keep their word but how can we be absolutely sure they would? And when one of them plants a bomb and you lose your legs, you will know for sure that the terrorist who promised to be a good boy—lied. It would be bad enough to lose your legs or a loved one to a terrorist who didn’t make that commitment but to lose your legs or a loved one to a terrorist who promised upon his release from prison that he would never commit a terrorist act again, would be doubly painful.

UPDATE: The Canadian federal government has just announced in February 13, 2014 that it is seriously considering stripping Canadian citizens of their citizenship if they are found guilty of committing acts of terrorism in Canada or in other countries. If it becomes law, I hope that the suspected Canadian terrorist if still out of the country will have his or her passport cancelled and if he or she wants to return to Canada, it will be on the condition that that person is given a temporary passport and returns to Canada under escort where he or she will face a trial on a charge of terrorism. If found guilty, after serving a period of time in prison, he or she will be deported and the passport given to that person will be a UN refugee passport.     


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