Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Pulling the Heartstrings of Justice's Social Conscience

"El Bahnasawy's willingness to kill innocent civilians and martyr himself for ISIS, his absolute commitment to ISIS at the time of his arrest, and his deeply disturbing conduct since then all powerfully support a single conclusion: the incapacitation of El Bahnasawy should be total and lifelong."
"If anything, El Bahnasawy's asserted instabilities and addictive tendencies only further underscore the need for a sentence of life imprisonment to protect the public from a future attack or other criminal conduct by El Bahnasawy."
"[During his incarceration in New York's corrections facility he has used opioids and marijuana multiple times and] marked the walls of his prison cell with images and statements expressing his support for ISIS and terrorist attacks, and warning that more attacks were to come."
U.S. prosecutor Geoffrey Berman, New York Federal court

"I want to experience life away from drugs and away from war and violence"
"I want a stable life and I want to stop having extreme turns that keep getting me in trouble, like my turn towards drugs or my turn towards jihad."
Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy, 20, Canadian citizen, ISIS adherent
A photo from Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy's Facebook profile dated October 2015. (Facebook)

So young, so innocent in appearance, so vulnerable, pleading for understanding and a break, to allow him to live a normal life away from the influences that have marked his life as a terrorist. It must, obviously, have been the grim circumstances of life in Canada when he emigrated from Kuwait with his family as a child that pointed him in the direction of social rejection of the normatives of Canadian society and toward fanaticism. Not his fault he is so suggestible; and after all, drugs were also involved, so he should be viewed as a victim.

True, when he was arrested by the FBI he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries, conspiracy to bomb a public place and public transportation systems, and providing and attempting to provide material support in acts of terrorism. That's quite a rap sheet. He was nothing if not ambitious. Not for himself, mind, but as a martyr to Islam. Faith in one's religion and its dictates must surely represent someone with a good heart, there is that kind of interpretation, isn't there?

So, he has apologized, and humbly asks for a "second chance". In a letter his lawyers submitted to the court, he speaks of the misfortunes he has encountered throughout his young life; years of substance abuse, issues with mental health, a number of attempts at suicide. He just, naturally, decided to put all those elements together and the solution presented itself: with the encouragement of ISIS, he would become a suicide martyr and in the name of Islam would target non-Muslims to carry them with him as gifts to gain entry to Paradise where those nubile virgins awaited him.

The plot would have allegedly included detonating bombs in Times Square and the New York subway system, as well as shootings at various concert venues. (Kathy Willens/Associated Press)

His lawyers have submitted their own request on their client's behalf; a sentence "no greater than necessary to comply with (the law)". So that after serving time to compensate society for his plans to conduct bombings and mass shootings at Times Square, within subway stations and at concert venues, he should be eligible for release while still in his mid-20s, with the greater balance of his life ahead of him, a normal, calm and respectful-of-others existence.

In preparation for which, during his incarceration time he has been diligently readying himself for this new, long-awaited role. Where in his prison cell a photograph seen by the court is that of a scrawled list of high-profile terrorist attacks. There is 9/11 prominently and approvingly present as well as the Boston Marathon bombing and circled around it is a notional heart with the sentiment and promise of "more coming".

Evidently it was in 2015 when this aspirant to terrorism communicated online with followers of Islamic State and a year later, at the suggestion of a high-ranking ISIL member, El Bahnasawy felt privileged to plan a suicide attack on New York, detonating improvised explosive devices at Times Square and in subways, reserving mass shootings for concert venues, inspired no doubt by previous successful such events and anxious to pin his name onto his own exploits in terror.

And nor did he neglect the need to become an effective recruiter to bring in other sympathizers of Islamic State for support in co-ordinating and carrying out attacks. Unfortunately for this little conspirator, one of the recruits was an undercover FBI agent to whom his plans were revealed so that when he travelled to Cranford, New Jersey with his parents and sisters ostensibly for a family holiday, for for his purposes, to begin the final phase of the planned attacks U.S. law enforcement was monitoring him.

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