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Death penalty for wannabe martyrs

We need to have a serious debate about killing captured terrorists

3 June 2017

9:00 AM

3 June 2017

9:00 AM

Sooner or later some deranged Islamic fundamentalist is going to kill a lot of Australians for the greater glory of Islam. Yes, Yes, I know he (or she) will not be a ‘true Muslim’ but, to the Australians who are going to be murdered, the religious status of the killer is somewhat academic.

Now that blowing up airplanes in mid-air is proving too difficult, the methode du jour for the dispatch of infidels is to drive into crowds in a car or truck. Simple but effective as we have seen so often in recent times and, unless peace breaks out in the Islamic world, this trend is going to continue. Whether the Manchester bombing signifies a return to the more traditional means of mass murder remains to be seen.

Thus far most of the people who commit these barbaric acts are killed at the scene or, as in the case of Anis Amri, are shot shortly afterwards. Sooner or later the driver of one of these vehicles is going to survive his encounter with police and will then be found guilty of mass murder and a judge will then have to determine the appropriate punishment.

Under our present laws the only options available to the judge involve incarceration for life or an extended period.

In September 2014, an SMS Morgan poll found a narrow majority of 52.5 per cent of Australians supported the return of the death penalty for terrorists. That majority will almost certainly have increased in the ensuing years as the incidence of mass killings has steadily grown and it is time that, as a society, we had a serious debate about what we want to do with deranged terrorists who kill a lot of people.

Undoubtedly, the most famous person in this category is Anders Breivik, who in 2011 murdered 77 fellow Norwegians and was subsequently jailed for 21 years. Earlier this year he took the Norwegian government to court claiming a denial of his human rights. The grounds of his appeal included the facts that he was denied an upgrade of the Playstation device he kills time with, that he is denied the use of metal cutlery and has to make do with plastic eating utensils, and that he is denied access to private communication with supporters outside of the prison.

Australia’s own most notorious mass murderer is, arguably, Ivan Milat, who is in Goulburn Correctional Centre’s Supermax which is where he will probably end his days at a cost to the taxpayer of $320,000 per annum. What both Milat and Breivik have in common is that they have maintained high media profiles since their incarceration and neither have shown the slightest remorse for the murders they have committed and the pain they continue to bring to the relatives of their victims. Milat is 73 and will almost certainly cost taxpayers millions of dollars in the years ahead.

In the UK, following the Manchester bombing, Janice Atkinson, who is a member of the European Parliament and a former UKIP party member, has called for the reintroduction of the death penalty for terrorists.

Last year the North Queensland MP George Christensen called for the return of the death penalty, arguing that it could be imposed for terrorism crimes involving death and for the rape and murder of children.

‘I personally think it’s warranted in some instances, but I’m not gung-ho enough to think I can, or anyone can, reinstate it in Australia,’ he said.

It is time, given that the majority of Australians support the death penalty for terrorist mass murderers, to ask why there is so little debate about this topic?

In October 2016, an opinion survey by Essential Research found that 48 per cent of Australians supported a ban on Muslim migration and the survey made news around the world. For days after the release of the survey results, the media agonised about the closet rednecks who infest our fair land. Yet when an equally authoritative research poll discovered that the majority of Australian citizens wish to see the death penalty brought back for terrorists, the media showed almost no interest in running with the story.

Why does one example of right-wing red-neckery excite the media while another equally potent manifestation of discontent with a left-wing ideological viewpoint gets ignored?

I can’t convincingly answer my own question but I can confidently tell you that if Cory Bernardi or Pauline Hanson wish to substantially increase their electoral support they should immediately introduce the death penalty for terrorists to their policies. There is now overwhelming support for such a policy but not because it will deter terrorists.

The men who commit these atrocities do so in the belief that, should they die as a result of killing infidels, they are guaranteed a place in paradise where they can spend eternity deflowering 72 virgins who are blessed with white skin, no body hair and large breasts (female martyrs get one male partner who, we are assured, will satisfy them).

Terrorists who commit mass murder should be executed for three simple reasons. The millions of dollars that it will cost us to incarcerate a mass murderer and enable him to live out his days in relative comfort can be better spent. For instance, the $320,000 that Milat consumes every year could pay for ten university scholarships.

Locking up these ghouls merely creates a pool of infection – a centre of radicalisation. But most importantly, in ending the life of a terrorist, we are ensuring that he or she will be forgotten.

Unless you are very well informed you have already forgotten who Anis Amri and Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel are because, unlike Anders Breivik and Ivan Milat, they are dead. By executing mass killers they are denied a voice and the relatives of their victims and the survivors who were merely badly injured will not have to endure daily reminders in the media of what they experienced.

If ever there was a policy debate whose time has come, this is it. Anyone who wants to spend a few years in a lucrative job in Canberra has merely to establish the ‘Death Penalty For Terrorists Party’ and a seat in the Senate is assured.

For a modest fee, I’ll be the campaign manager.

Tony Letford was the winner of The 2015 Spectator Australia Thawley Essay prize

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