Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Incompetent Terrorist is Still a Problem

The guy who tried to blow up his own car in Times Square, and couldn't even do that right, doesn't sound like much of a threat, does he? We only wish that more of the world's bomb-makers were as inept.

And after the fizzled fact, Faizal Shahzad is doing the right thing, so far as his distorted worldview permits, by cooperating with investigators, and pleading guilty in court. Saves everybody a lot of time and money.

Don't get us wrong: he's still a creep. His plea, as reported by the AP, is couched in all the usual self-righteous twaddle: This is war and I'm a soldier; deliberately killing innocents en masse is fine because the US sometimes kills a few by accident; and anyway, all Americans are guilty, because they elect their government. (We are especially amused by that last claim, which effectively exempts many of the world's Muslims from guilt, since they live in despotic autocracies).

But what next? Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum asked him if he understood that he might spend the rest of his life in prison, and he said that he did. Well, duh. Of course he does. And that's the problem -- jail is the one place where this loser can actually do any harm. He can spread his self-serving fanaticism among the most disaffected members of American society, our vast population of the incarcerated. And even if Shazad is too stupid to make a bomb work, it is likely that some of his converts will be able to do so.

If Shahzad were a real soldier, fighting on a real battlefield, he would probably have been shot outright, thus mooting the point. If captured, he would eventually be set free -- in his own country. But the man is an American citizen, who committed a crime in his own country. Under our laws, he isn't going to be executed. He's going to be locked away with other criminals, some of whom may drink from the well of his nihilism and emerge from prison eager to kill.

We at the Egg don't support the death penalty or long-term isolation of prisoners. But we genuinely aren't sure what else to do with somebody like this.

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