Bilal Zaheer Ahmad – ‘the viper in our midst’
He posted on Facebook: ‘This sister has put us men to shame. WE SHOULD BE DOING THIS.’ A few days later, he posted on a website: ‘I think Timms got let off lightly, in comparison to the countless civilians that have been killed as a direct result of the war he voted for. Roshonara Choudhry is a heroine. Free Roshonara Choudhry and give her a medal for justice.’
He listed pro-war politicians on the website and urged his co-religionists to 'raise the knife of jihad' against them. He explained how to find out constituency surgery details, and then helpfully provided a link to an online shopping site selling knives. How very thoughtful if him. He also possessed electronic copies of books called, two of which were entitles 39 Ways to Serve and Participate in Jihad and Zaad-e-Mujahid: Essential Provisions of a Mujahadid. It really needed no new legislation; no particular statutory prohibition of ‘hate crime’ to deal with this: Bilal Zaheer Ahmad was soliciting murder. He posted his poison on US-based website (since taken down in the US, but which re-directs in the UK – His Grace does not wish to link).
He not only called for a further attack upon Stephen Timms MP (in a prayer, no less), but also the judge who had sentenced Roshonara Choudhry. And so Mr Justice Royce jailed him for 12 years with an additional five years’ extended period on licence. The Judge told him: “Whatever our views on the Iraq War we are a democracy. You purport to be a British citizen but what you stand for is totally alien to what we stand for in our country. You became a viper in our midst willing to go to as far as possible to strike at the heart of our system.”
Mr Justice Royce told Ahmad his views were ‘corrosively dangerous’ and that he had attempted to strike at the heart of British democracy. “Politicians are often faced with difficult decisions. They don’t always get it right,” he said. “They have to face up to serious criticism on occasions as part of the democratic process. The same can be said for bankers, press barons and judges. It is important MPs can hold constituency surgeries without the threat of someone pulling out a knife and trying to kill them. You were intent on striking at the heart of our democracy and if our politicians are to be at risk from those like you, then the message must go out loud and clear that this country will not be tolerate such threats to its democratic processes.”
Imran Khan, defending, said Ahmad had fallen in with members of Islamist movement al-Muhajiroun when aged 16 at college because he felt ‘excluded from mainstream society’. "This is not the case of a man indoctrinating but of a man who has been indoctrinated by others," Mr Khan said.
It is no defence at all to plead ‘exclusion’: it is a little like blaming the father of Anders Behring Breivik for not being a good dad.
A few months ago, the Home Secretary Theresa May said that it was insufficient to focus on the murderers; attention must be paid to the ideology. She told us that in addition to combating violent extremism, the Government will tackle ‘extremist philosophies’ by looking closely at ‘the values’ of the organisations themselves. Mrs May said: “There’s an ideology out there that we need to challenge and when we first came in as a government one of the things we were very clear about here at the Home Office was we needed to look at extremism, not just violent extremism.” The assertion is that violent extremism is incubated within the ideology of non-violent extremism.
Indeed it is.
And so ‘the viper in our midst’ is not simply the serpent, but the serpentine religio-political philosophy which meanders through society, twisting and turning, meandering and beguiling, spinning its spell and weaving its contorted and perverted message into the foundations of our culture.
And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.