When is a terrorist not a terrorist?
"I financed terrorism, I recruited people to go to terrorist training camps, I myself have been to terrorist training camps," and "My life was easier being a terrorist than it is now that I am no longer a terrorist," or "Of the 15, 11 had been sent for terrorist training. I know because I personally sent these guys to camps," - Reuters.
Do you recall the days when OBM used to make outlandish claims or ‘Sheikh’ Faisal telling us that it is okay to rob a ‘kafir’ bank to raise money for the mujahideen? Most of us were shocked by such comments and could not understand why the authorities did nothing about these people. Well – it’s back again – not only do we have a ‘Takfiri’ like Ed Husain being courted by the authorities and media, we now have Hassan Butt doing the same.
I suspect the reason why the authorities are not distancing themselves from him or getting him arrested is two fold. Firstly, Hassan Butt is a fantasist, he is quite well known for outrages claims and comments. I recall a radio interview, a year or so back on the BBC, where Hassan and I crossed words. Hassan claimed that he knew of ‘large and organised group that was recruiting people for terrorism’ and that he knew who they were. So I challenged him and called his bluff and asked him to name the group live on air. He refused, so I said to him if he didn’t name them, I would report him to the police for withholding information about terrorist activities (Yes ‘shock’ and ‘awe’ tactic)! Hassan replied, “well they are not a group as such, they are a loose network of individuals.” I asked Hassan if he knew who these individuals were. “Well not really I only know of them” as you can imagine by the end it turned out he knew nothing!
The second reason is that Hassan, similar to the likes of Ed Husain and others, is able to do what many “Islamophobes” cannot, i.e. attack the values of Islam from within, with a possibility of finding some resonance with the targeted audience. Therefore arresting these people will not be productive to the current “Preventing extremism” strategy. Those that disagree with me or feel I am generalising I would refer to the article regarding Abdul Muneem Patel who has been recently released from Prison having served his sentence. The problem with Abdul Muneem, according to the Islamophobes, is he has not attacked Islam or its values, he has not reneged on his faith nor has he joined the secular camp!
I do not sense that those espousing these narratives or those that are supportive of this approach truly believe in “forgiving” and “moving on”. In their mind it is not enough to say sorry or to have served your sentence, for these people, the only acceptable criteria is that you renege on your Deen.
I suppose I could have just answered the question at the beginning by saying, “When the terrorist is anti Islam!”