Boris Johnson unveiled a wish list of repressive measures after the shooting of Sudesh Amman in Streatham, south London, on Sunday.
Johnson said that people convicted of terrorism offences will lose their right to early release if they are deemed to continue to pose a threat to the public.
And in a new and very dangerous measure, Johnson said that this would apply not just to people who are convicted in the future. It will affect those already in jail.
Such retrospective measures—which socialists have always opposed—mean that people who are sentenced under one system can find themselves facing a wholly new and worse situation.
Johnson said no one should be released “without cynical, hardened people looking into their eyes and really thinking whether or not these people will again pose a danger to the public”.
Home secretary Priti Patel has previously called for lie-detector tests for people seeking probation.
Already under consideration are plans to criminalise the simple possession of “terrorist propaganda”—anything deemed to glorify or encourage extremism.
Currently, only the distribution of such material or possession of material considered useful to the commissioning of a terrorist act, are criminal.
Amman was shot dead after stabbing and injuring two people.
The 20-year-old had been freed after serving half of his sentence of more than three years for the possession and distribution of extremist material. He was under active police surveillance.
Yet much of the press coverage of this “terrorist” suggested he was a mass killer who any sensible person would lock up for life. But longer prison sentences won’t prevent terrorist attacks.
Prisons do not prevent crime and they do not rehabilitate. They don’t even work in their own terms.
Haleema Faraz Khan, Amman’s mother, told Sky News that she believed he had been radicalised while in high-security jail Belmarsh.
London mayor Sadiq Khan managed both to condemn Amman’s release and to criticise prison. “Prisons are warehouses where people are radicalised more or learn more things from a university of crime rather than being rehabilitated and punished,” he said.
The sort of announcements from Johnson are part of a law and order campaign with serious consequences for democratic rights.
Long minimum sentences will do nothing to deal with the roots of terror attacks—for example, in the wars carried out by the British and US governments. Since the launch of the “war on terror” there have been constant new restrictions of rights. They were all ineffective.
Now Johnson’s measures will be used to clear the way for harsher sentencing in other areas.
The shooting down of Sudesh Amman in Streatham on Sunday is another example of street executions carried out by the police.
Amman was gunned down by officers who were “actively monitoring him at close range”. It was revealed that the pistols used to kill him are routinely carried by officers involved in such monitoring.
This means there are dozens of armed plain-clothes officers wandering the streets. And they clearly now feel they can shoot people who they deem are a danger.
Mobile phone footage of the incident showed a number of police officers wearing plain clothes arriving on the scene at high speed, firing about five gunshots and killing Amman.
Usman Khan was shot when he carried out an attack on London Bridge in November last year. He was also being closely monitored by the police.
Politicians lined up to praise the police force for their handling of the incident, and to defend their right to shoot down suspects.
But this is the same attitude that police led to the murder of the wholly innocent Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes. He was shot on the tube by plain-clothed police officers in 2005, also in South London.
One police officer held him down while two others fired seven hollow tip bullets into his head and one into his neck. Three other bullets missed.
Jean Charles had left his block of flats in Tulse Hill that morning. Surveillance officers, including some from military intelligence, were watching the flats, looking for alleged terrorists.
The firearms officer who fired the fatal shots said he was prepared to tackle terrorists who were intent on “mass murder”.
He said Jean Charles’ behaviour had been “in keeping with a man acting suspiciously, with being a potential suicide bomber”.
On the afternoon of the shooting, Evening Standard newsboards announced that a “bomber” had been shot dead on London’s tube.
In fact the police released “incorrect information,” as the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) politely put it.
Jean Charles’ killing led many people to question the right of the police to shoot down suspects. They are now winning back that right.
Everyone—particularly Muslims and black people—should be scared. And we should all oppose arming the police.
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