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Carry On Jihading?

Human Rights
UK passport

John Barker under a Creative Commons Licence

David Cameron has announced he is considering plans to take passports away from UK nationals suspected of being involved in ‘terror acts’ or, as the tabloids would have it, ‘jihad’.

Now, if you’ll forgive my blistering ignorance, I think those suspected of violent acts of terror belong in a courtroom in front of a judge, not being forced to ‘Carry On Jihading’.

I can’t imagine Cameron’s announcement will act as a deterrent to anyone on a terrorist apprenticeship scheme. ‘I was planning some jihad, but I’d hate to miss out on the annual lads’ trip to Chamonix. The après-ski is 72 virgins or, if you prefer, “to die for”.’

Maybe this is intended for the people of Syria. There they are, sitting on all that military equipment we sent them, while all the jihadis are off on cheap package holidays. The Brits may be famous for moaning about the weather, but in Syria all you hear is ‘We could use a bit more jihad around here’. And won’t having British jihadis blow up Syria put local Syrian ‘terror apprentices’ out of work?

The government claims, with disquieting vagueness, that ‘at least 500’ have gone from the UK to fight in Syria. Good work, Cameron: the best way to stop people fighting is to force them to stay in one of the most dangerous and lawless places on earth. It sounds like when your Dad caught you smoking and punished you by making you smoke the whole pack. And yes, that was terrible parenting.

This is the global terror equivalent of the Icelandic ash cloud. They’ll be ringing in to the office: ‘Sorry guys, we’ve tried everything. You’ll have to do the annual appraisals without me. We’ll just try and make the best of it with some more jihading.’ Will the airlines have to pay for their hotels? At least the true jihadis won’t empty the minibar.

Being forced to stay in a dangerous country is a weird and unusual punishment. Next, those accused of assault will be forced to participate in the Pamplona Bull Run. Suspected burglars will be sent to Australia without any spider anti-venom.

But the biggest issue is this. How is it okay to punish anyone for any crime of which they are merely suspected? To the untrained ear, that sounds a lot like the horrible screeching of the very bedrock of our democracy being dragged out from underneath us.

How suspicious would you have to be? 

Maybe they’ll just add an extra trick question to the UK Landing Card they give you on the plane. ‘On a scale of 0 to DIE INFIDEL DIE, how jihadi are you?’ Some poor old granny will tick the wrong box because she hasn’t brought her reading glasses for a flight to the Isle of Man, and wind up in Guantanamo Bay.

Truth is, of course, that they’ll be targeting the same group they always do: dark-skinned bearded men with rucksacks, or anyone with a Qur’an or Islamic book in their luggage. Anyone truly hell-bent (or is it heaven-bent?) on coming to Britain to continue their murderous terror campaign would surely be committed enough to shave and pack a copy of Eat Pray Love.

So all we’ll end up doing is stigmatizing, bullying and maybe actually killing charity workers, lost gap-year kids and some frightened British Muslims desperately trying to leave a war zone they have every right to leave.

And one more thing. If we have now thrown out the rule of law and the right to a fair trial, and justice is now meted out based on suspicion alone, can I please publicly state:

David Cameron seems to me like the kind of guy who sells crack and punches children. I suspect he does these things a lot. Can we force him to go live in a war zone now, please?

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