Monday, 18 May 2015

Should the Boston Bomber be executed?  (Part 1)                       

Khadr (first and last name pronounced Zokar Sarnay) was sentenced to death on May 15, 2015 for his part in the Boston bombing that took place on April 15, 2015 during the running of the Boston marathon twenty-five months ago.


This series I have written about on this particular terrorist is divided into two parts. Part 1 will include a speech I gave at the Seventh United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders held in Milan, Italy in September 1985. The second part will deal with Dzhokhar Tsarnev’s background, his crime, his trial and his sentence.   

Between 1975 and 1985, when I was invited by the United Nations to address UN Congresses as a criminologist, I was classed by the UN as an officially UN recognized “Canadian Observer” to the UN Congresses. This classification also applied to judges, police chiefs, parole and probation officers along with wardens and Superintendents of prisons. In 1995, our classifications changed to being classed as UN recognized “Individual Experts”.             

After being invited to speak at the Seventh UN Congress in 1985, I gave my speech on Terrorism on September 30, 1985.  Now normally those of us who are not delegates of our own countries can speak but not vote. And when we speak, it is from our desks behind the desks of the delegates. When our names are called, we press the ‘on’ button of the microphone on our desks and then give our speeches. However, this time, the chairman of that particular session decided that I should speak from the podium because the Italian government wanted to have my speech recorded on television. Later I was told that my speech in part was broadcasted all over Italy, with my voice being dubbed over by someone speaking Italian.  And now, I will submit to you my official UN document.  

I am addressing my remarks specifically to those countries that have suffered under terrorism.  I am not going to speak to you as a criminologist but rather as one human being to another.

Terrorists slaughter human beings with the same indifference as humans slaughter animals. We are at this time in history when we can no longer stand by as mere curiosity seekers and watch innocent men, women and children being slaughtered by terrorists. We are superior to these animalistic terrorists and for this reason, it is time to deal with these animals in the same manner that we deal with marauding wolves which are hunted down and exterminated. Do we show mercy to a wolf that would devour our children? Should we show mercy to a terrorist who would randomly and with indifference, slaughter out children?  

It is the custom in some countries to merely imprison them with the understanding that if these terrorists behave themselves, they might eventually be released back into society.

Please note that when Abu Bakral-Baghdadi was released from custody by the Americans from their Camp Bucca in Iraq in 2009 because of his good behavior, he later became the leader of ISIS, one of the worst terrorist organizations in the world.

I ask you this question. Do you want these animals to prowl amongst us again? They will prowl again and thy will rip your guts out and fling them in your face in the same contemptuous manner in which they earlier ripped out the guts of your loved ones.  And as you lay dying on the street with your blood running into the gutter, these animals will drool over your body and smack their lips and bay to each other and to the news media. You will simply be another statistic and they will live on to rip out the guts of other innocent victims. 

There are many thinkers throughout this world and even in this Assembly Hall that would argue that even a terrorist has a right to life. They would state that only God can take a life since it is only him who gave it. That argument is an interesting one and to some extent, it has some validity to it but I for one do not subscribe to it totally. God can give life and take it but there are times when he doesn’t get involved in saving it. If God wishes to give life to a newborn and then refuses to save that baby from destruction at the hands of a terrorist, then I for one am not interested in considering God’s position on how to deal with that innocent baby’s killer. 

God is not the terrorist’s judge. We as humans are the terrorist’s judge. If God wants to deal with terrorists in his own way, he can—after we are through with him.

You have to admit that one has to have a lot of intestinal fortitude to make statements like that in a god-fearing nation like Italy.

To those who advocate mercy to terrorists who randomly kill innocent victims, I say this. Wait until your family is wiped out by some animal who drooled over the bodies of your loved ones. Wait until you have spent years in loneliness and heart break because your loved ones are not with you in your twilight years. Then only then when you come to face with the killer of your loved ones, tell him how you understand his motives. Tell him that you sympathize with his aims and that you appreciate that the murder of your loved ones was an important and necessary step towards the realization of his aims. And finally when you are by this time dying at his feet, offer him your forgiveness, Be careful however not to get to close to his face lest he drool all over you at best and spit in your face at worst. 

If this is what you desire for yourself, then so be it. But you cannot expect the rest of us to show mercy to the animals that would destroy our lives and those of our loved ones.

When a murderer kills another human being, he creates three kinds of victims. The person who is murdered is of course, the primary victim. The families and friends of the primary victim are the secondary victims. Those of us who are outside the circle of family and friends of the primary victim are the peripheral victims because in some sense, we too suffer. That is because most if not all of us have compassion. We don’t suffer from the agony of the primary victim or the anguish of the secondary victims.  The loss of an innocent victim at the hands of a murderer takes something from us also because when an innocent victim dies, a little of each of us peripheral victims die also. 

There are three kinds of terrorists in this world. The first kind are those who randomly kill innocent men, women and children by firing guns, or placing bombs and/or lobbing grenades in crowded streets or buildings.  There are also those who hijack buses, planes or ships and kill those on board. And finally there are those who are leaders of terror organizations and their bomb makers. They are just as guilty of murder as those who are the ones who pull the triggers or plant or throw explosive devices.

I am proposing what I think is a more suitable scenario in dealing with these terrorists. As soon as these terrorists are arrested, they should be brought to trial immediately; that is within a month at most. If the evidence is overwhelming, such as being caught in the act, there trials should begin within a week or so.

The witnesses should be individually placed in hotels and only be permitted to talk to the investigators. They should however be permitted to write and receive letters that are first examined by censors.

Special tribunals should be created to deal with these criminals. There should be permanent investigative teams who are trained in law, prosecutors and judges who all have a thorough understanding of terrorism and whose only work in the field of law deals only with terrorism. 

A list of lawyers should be given to the accused so that they can choose the lawyer they wish to defend them. The lawyers who are chosen by the terrorists should have their fees paid only by the government and their fees should be no greater or less than those of the prosecutors. The defence should be given copies of all document that are going to be used as evidence against them and anything that is blacked out in the documents will not be used as evidence against them.

The accused should be given information about what every witness is going to say when testifying against them. The trials should be in camera (secret) during the times when secret information is going to be discussed during the trials. The names of the witnesses should not be disclosed nor should their faces be shown nor should anything other than their testimony (if not secret) be disclosed to the public.

Since civilians no doubt will pay an important role in the trials, great care should be undertaken to ensure that their identities remain secret, that they are protected at all times prior, during and after the trials.  Further, they should be well compensated for any inconvenience they have to endure, both prior and during the trials. 

I realize that keeping secret the identities of witnesses creates an aura of unfairness but in reality, it is only their statements, both under direct examination and cross examination that the judges will concern themselves with. Certainly, their faces, names, occupations and homes can hardly add anything to their testimony and in actual fact would deter any potential  witnesses to cooperate with the investigators out of fear that they and their families will be harmed if the terrorist’s cohorts know who they are and where they live.

As soon as the witnesses have testified, they should be immediately removed from the court and secretly taken to a military airbase and finally from there, taken to their homes.

Since it would not be safe for civilian jurors to hear the evidence because of the fear of being murdered by terrorists, a panel of three judges should be empaneled to hear each case. Their names should not be disclosed to the public.

Within a year after I gave this speech, Germany tried terrorists with a panel of three judges.

If all three judges at a trial find the defendant guilty, then the defendant should be sentenced to death. If two of the judges find the defendant guilty, then the defendant should be sentenced to life in prison without parole. If only one judge finds the defendant guilty, then he should be declared not guilty. That defendant should still be held in custody until the Supreme Court of the country the trial was held in has reviewed the transcripts of the trial. 

The Supreme Court reviewing the transcripts (which will also include the closing arguments of both counsel and the statements of the judges) will determine if the trial was conducted fairly and the testimony of the witnesses were believable. If the trial was fair and the witnesses’ testimony is believable, then the Supreme Court will not overturn the verdicts and the sentences. There is no reason why the Supreme Court can’t put aside all other matters and concentrate on the trials of the terrorists. This would mean that from the moment of the arrests and until the final decision of the Supreme Court comes down and the terrorists are executed, only a month will have passed.

It has been estimated that as much as two or more decades will pass before Dzhokhar Tsarnev will have exhausted his appeals and is executed. It is conceivable that some of the victims who lost limbs in the bombings will never see the day when this terrorist is executed.

Terrorists who are between fifteen and eighteen who are convicted of murder should be sentenced to twenty-five years in prison. Teenagers under fifteen who are convicted of murder should be placed in youth institutions until the authorities are satisfied that society will not be harmed if they are released back into society.

While the convicted defendants are waiting for the decision of the court, the only contact they should have is that of their lawyers and no-one else. 

If the Supreme Court upholds the verdicts and the sentences of death, the executions should take place within 24 hours. Families of murdered victims and those who lost limbs should be permitted to watch the executions.

In 2013, the Republican-controlled legislature previously sent a bill to Gov. Rick Scott that, if signed, would require the governor to sign execution warrants 30 days after the state Supreme Court reviews the case. It would require the state to execute a prisoner within 180 days of a warrant being signed. That is a good idea but the State should wait until the Supreme Court of the United States makes its ruling.

Survivors and family members of Oklahoma City bombing  victims were allowed to watch the execution of convicted Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh on a secure, closed-circuit television feed.

If it is the decisions of the Supreme Court of the country where the executions are to take place are not to overturn the verdicts and sentences, then the sentences should be carried out within 24 hours. Since permitting the media to watch the executions would only incense the compatriots of the condemned to kill more innocent people as an act of revenge, the only statement made by the authorities is similar to that made after the executions of the men who murdered Egyptian President Sadat. “They are now with Allah.” 

Once terrorists are convicted of their murderous crimes, they are the property of the country that executes them. As such, they are entitled to nothing but the barest of necessities. They should not be comforted by family members, friends or men of the cloth. They can pray to their own god without the assistance of others.

The whole purpose of this is to get the message across to others who are terrorists or wannabe terrorists that these condemned terrorists are not worthy of any consideration whatsoever since they, not unlike wild dangerous animals are simply being put down. They should not be pampered in their final hours.

The method of execution should be quick and painless and with no fuss or ceremony and their bodies should be disposed of as the trash they are.  Their bodies should be incinerated and their ashes place in lead containers and dumped in the sea so that no one can pray over their graves.

After Osama bin Laden was killed, he was dumped overboard into the sea from an American warship despite the fact that under Islamic tradition, burial at sea is considered inappropriate when other, preferred forms of burial are available. In order not to inflame Muslims, his body was washed first and then wrapped in a white shroud as per Muslim custom before being dumped overboard.

I say these things knowing that there are some who will say that I am no better than those who I condemn as terrorists. But to those I would ask this rhetorical question. Has imprisoning them actually worked? How many terrorists who were imprisoned and then later released returned back to terrorism again?

In 1972, three Japanese gunmen opened fire on crowds at Lod International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, killing 26 people and injuring dozens more. The surviving gunman, Kozo Okamoto, was tried in June 1972 and given a life sentence, in spite of his pleas to be allowed to shoot himself. He spent 13 years in jail in Israel before being released in a prisoner exchange with the Palestinians. He moved to Libya, then Syria, and finally to Lebanon where he reunited with other members of the Japanese Red Army. He converted to Islam and is regarded as a hero in Lebanon. Quite frankly, I will find it difficult to believe that since his release from the Israelis prison, he has lived in peace and harmony with his fellow human beings.

We are at this point in history where we must either fight with everything we have or succumb to the fate of all innocent victims who have been murdered by terrorists. We are at war with them.

The White House and Pentagon acknowledged on September 12, 2014  that the U.S. “is at war” with the Islamic State (ISIS).

Admittedly war is evil and it is anything but fair.

Hundreds of thousands of German citizens in World War II were killed in Allied bombing raids and the same applied in Hiroshima and Nagasaki when the Americans dropped the two atomic bombs on those two cities and many innocent civilians in Pakistan and Yemen have been killed by US operated drones.  

We fight hard in wars and we should do no less than when fighting terrorism. We should deal harshly with these terrorists who care little about their own lives and absolutely nothing about the lives of their innocent victims. They have already accepted the fact that they are destined to be killed either by suicide attacks or by soldiers and policemen or enraged citizenry so it shouldn’t come to them as a surprise that they will be executed soon after they have been found guilty of murder.  

In January 2015, the Pakistan government established nine military courts after Pakistan Taliban terrorists attacked an army-run school in Peshawar, killing 134 pupils and 19 adults. The courts expanded the military’s powers, giving them the authority to also try civilians accused of terrorism. In May 2015, the new military courts e sentenced six men to death for involvement in terrorism and a seventh to life imprisonment. The six condemned hardcore terrorists committed heinous offences relating to terrorism, such as slaughtering innocent civilians by suicide bombings, abduction for ransom, colossal damage to life and for this reason; they were property tried by the military courts.

If instead they were sentenced to imprisonment for life, there is a chance that they will be set free by their compatriots outside who have come to set them free. On July 27, 2013, 1,000 inmates escaped from the Queyfiya prison near BenghaziLibya. Local residents of Benghazi released the inmates out of the prison. Many of those who were set free were terrorists and many of the men who released them were also terrorists.

As many as 1,000 Palestinian prisoners were set free by the Israelis in 2011 in order to obtain the release of one Israelis soldier who was held captive by terrorists. Many of the Palestinians who were released were originally captured by the Israelis as terrorists.

If some of the esteemed conferees of this United Nations Congress would advocate the eventual release from prison such terrorists and these unrepentant killers go out and kill again, I say to these esteemed members of this assembly, weep for those innocent victims whose deaths you will bring about by negotiating their killers out of prison. I will weep with you but the guilt will fall on your heads and when that happens, I will step aside of you for none shall fall on my head.  If after we have returned to our respective countries, any of you or your loved ones become victims of those released terrorists, I shall weep for you and your family. As a peripheral victim, I shall suffer for your loss because if you or your loved ones die at the hands of those terrorists, a little of me will die also.

This was the end of my document that the UN officially classified as a UN document. All delegates and other speakers such as me are allotted only ten minutes to speak on any one topic. What was televised was ten minutes of excerpts from my paper. The entire paper which you have read was distributed by the United Nations to the delegates of the more than one hundred nations attending the conference.

Right after I gave my speech, I was interviewed by a reporter of the Milanese newspaper, CORRIER DELLA SERA. What follows is what they published in their paper.

“The proposition of the Canadian delegate, Dahn Batchelor was; `Terrorists must be executed, their bodies must be burned and their ashes thrown into the sea so that no-one will ever cry over their tombs. Terrorist is the worst cancer of society and I deny any possibility of any rehabilitation the other delegates mentioned in their speeches. The terrorists kill persons that work toward the progress of society and also kill innocent women and innocent children.” unquote

UPA (United Press Association) sent the following text around the world within hours after my speech was presented.  

“DAHN BATCHELOR criminologist of Toronto, Canada speaking as an individual said that terrorists slaughter human beings with the same indifference as humans slaughter animals. It is time to deal with these animals in the same manner that we deal with marauding wolves which are hunted down and exterminated. As soon as these terrorists are arrested, they should be brought to trial immediately; that is within a month at most. If the evidence is overwhelming, such as being caught in the act, there trials should begin within a week or so. In such cases, the Supreme Court would only concern itself as to the honesty and fairness of the original trial. If the court decided that the verdict and sentence should stand, then the sentence of death should be carried out immediately. Announcement of the execution should be made in a very brief statement after the sentences were carried out. Admittedly, the idea of summary trials even for terrorists is repugnant but it must not be forgotten that the longer murderers are kept in prison, the greater the chance that their compatriots would take the lives of innocent citizens and hold countries hostage to get them released."  unquote

UPDATE: Khadr has been sentenced to death.

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