Sunday, November 15, 2009

Munro Ferguson of Coming Anarchy: Don't execute Khalid Sheik Mohammed

Now that KSM and other accused 9/11 conspirators are being moved to New York City for trial, the prospect of the death penalty is a real one. Over at Coming Anarchy, Munro-Ferguson argues against it:
A dead KSM becomes a martyr. A locked in solitary confinement for the rest of his life KSM becomes impotent and a more effective symbol of American retaliation. In short, if we catch you you lose your martyrdom card and the 72 virgins along with it. What’s the worst fate for an Islamic extremist? Certainly not a violent death. How about death by old age or disease, locked up like cattle and long forgotten by your cause?
This is something I wholeheartedly agree with, and I said the same thing about convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and convicted 9/11 plotter Zacarias Moussaoui. From my blog in May 2006:
Like Timothy McVeigh, Moussaoui is a potential symbol for those who would do harm to Americans and other people. Their killing is not seen as a deterrent to such people, but as a rallying cry. Their execution is a symbol of American hubris and unyielding might which is being used as a sledgehammer against them. To paraphrase a common saying, their deaths make a martyr out of an asshole.

Furthermore, their brave face in the face of impending death as the executioner's needle is inserted becomes a model for like-minded individuals down the road. Their death by the American government authorities gives one more reason to fight for their cause.

In contrast, the image of an aging killer or would-be killer is a less potent symbol, a pathetic display that almosts evokes pity.
I said other things, of course, about vengeance being the Lord's, taking the moral high road, and the inherent fallibility of imposing and carrying out the death penalty. Feel free to go and read for yourself.

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