Monday, 12 September 2011

homegrown terrorist

as promised, i'm going to talk about the 60 minutes piece on our own, homegrown terrorist suspect with alleged links to al-qaeda.

first off, let me say that i don't know mark taylor. i've never met him, but i know people who have. he's a pretty recent arrival in hamilton, from what i understand. so i suspect the people who were vouching for him on the 60 minute clip don't really know him very well. but i can't be sure of that - maybe they knew him from before he moved to hamilton.

i certainly don't know if he has any real links to terrorist organisations or if he has been part of any terrorits activity. and i think that's the main point. it's pretty much impossible to tell, because the evidence is being kept secret. yes, i get all that espionage stuff about it being dangerous to put certain information in the public sphere. i can understand that there are legitimate reasons for not letting us all know the actual nature of the concerns regarding mr taylor.

the problem, though, is pretty much the same one faced by ahmed zaoui. the rules of natural justice require that a person know the charges/ allegations/ evidence against them, so that they are able to defend themselves. there may well be some explanation for mr taylor's travel movements or activities (i'm also finding the "looking for a wife" explanation a little difficult to believe), but he gets no opportunity to provide such explanations or countering evidence. he is restricted but never gets the chance to clear his name.

i don't think it's acceptable. there must be some way to set up a legal process - a closed hearing with only counsel and defendant present, or some other mechanism - that allows a person to clear their name. and if they are guilty of something that can't be tried in open court, then there should be definite sentence period - a time when the person has paid their dues and can go back to being an ordinary citizen. to have an open-ended sentence with no idea of what it might be based on isn't right.

i though patrick gower did a pretty good job of covering these issues on 3 news tonight. i do wonder if there would have been the same sort of coverage if mr taylor had been of a different ethnicity, but maybe there would have been. there were plenty of people asking similar questions regarding the process around mr zaoui.

there were a couple of things in the 60 minutes clip that i thought needed clarifying. mr taylor claims that he is required to migrate to a muslim country - that this is a requirement in islam. not true. the only requirement to migrate is if a persons feels that they are unable to freely practice their religion, particularly because of an oppressive regime, that they are required to migrate. so, for example, an argument could be made that families where women wear the burqa would be required to migrate from france to another country where they were able to practice their beliefs freely. that does depend on the family having the resources and ability to make the shift. but there certainly isn't some kind of universal requirement, otherwise there would be no muslims in nz.

also, i was a little bemused at the notion that mr taylor's belief that the attacks on 11 september 2011 were an inside job somehow point to his instability. seriously, there are heaps of people who believe that - i read somewhere that it was like 30% of people in the UK and some similar percentage in the US (sorry can't remember where, so can't link to it). there are all the people in this documentary, for starters.

in any case, all i can say about mr taylor is that he's innocent until proven guilty. and i've certainly yet to see any evidence other than his movements in pakistan - which is pretty indirect.

No comments: