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October 9, 2005
Catch-And-Release Program Should Only Apply To Fish

The Yemen government doesn't seem to take terrorism quite as seriously as we do, according to the London Telegraph. Their idea of handling terrorism goes even less further than the notorious law-enforcement approach that the United States tried during the decade prior to 9/11. Yemen takes a debate approach instead -- and it's about as effective as one might think:

A pioneering scheme to fight Islamist terror by encouraging jailed extremists to rethink their grasp of the Koran is under fire after claims that some of its "converts" have taken up arms again.

The project, launched in Yemen three years ago by an Islamic scholar, Judge Hamoud al-Hitar, has been followed closely by the British Government, which has twice invited him to lecture senior anti-terrorism officials at Scotland Yard.

The effectiveness of his technique - a theological "duel" in which he and the prisoners quote Koranic texts at each other - is in doubt, however, after reports that some al-Qaeda militants freed under the scheme have been caught fighting coalition forces in Iraq.

Among those released is the former chief bodyguard of Osama bin Laden, Nasser Al-Bahri, who has admitted that his sessions with Judge al-Hitar did nothing to diminish his belief in the leader of al-Qaeda. Instead, he suggested that many militants simply pretended to repent to gain quick release from jail.

No -- tell me it isn't so! The Yemenis and the Brits can't possibly mean that hardened terrorists, trained to resist Western interrogation techniques as well as Eastern torture, might lie about their intentions in order to get out of prison. Who could have seen that coming?

One would think that the Brits would not be so naive as to promote this kind of a program, especially after the June 7 bombings, but some apparently are. It's the same people who think that hatred consists of nothing more than a misunderstanding, and that a nice, friendly conversation cures evil. It's bad enough that we allowed this philosophy to turn our justice systems into a joke in the late 60s and 70s; now a new generation of naifs want to apply it to national security, at least overseas.

The key to understanding terrorists is to accept that evil exists. Those who target non-combatants for death because they are non-combatants just to make a political/religious point use their hatred to do evil. Having a chat and showing them the door does not transform them into peaceful debate-society denizens. Lock them up and throw away the key.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 9, 2005 6:41 AM

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