In 2005, Germany's high court ordered the release of a Syrian-born Mamoun Darkazani, who was being held in a German prison in connection with the 2003 Madrid bombings. He was also allegedly seen in a 1999 wedding video with two of the 9/11 suicidal attackers, Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah.
Spanish authorities investigating al-Qaida, along with 41 other suspects, including Osama bin Laden, indicted Darkazani. He was released because a German federal court thought it would be illegal for him to be extradited against his will.
A notorious Spanish terrorist, Inaki de Juana Chaos, a member of the Euskadi Ta Askatasuna terrorist group, or ETA, was sentenced to 3,000 years in prison for the murder of 25 people in the 1980s.
He was released after 21 years, benefiting from a 1973 law that allowed reductions of sentences for good conduct. His good conduct in prison included making death threats to prison governors. In a letter written after one of the killings, he said of the victims: "Their tears are our smiles, and in the end we will roar with laughter."
In 1985, four armed Palestinian terrorists hijacked the cruise ship, Achille Lauro, killing a defenseless elderly man in a wheelchair, Leon Klinghoffer, and then dumping his body overboard.
As the hijackers attempted to escape, then-President Ronald Reagan ordered U.S. fighter jets to intercept the plane carrying the terrorists. Their plane was forced to land in Signolia, Italy, where they were taken into custody.
They were sentenced to 25 years for kidnapping and murder but later released for good behavior.
European nations as a whole, have committed to fighting global terror and have talked a good game, until it comes to having the backbone and courage to stand strong in the face of threats or political influence.
The recent release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the lone man convicted of bombing Pan Am Flight 103 in Lockerbie, Scotland, is just another example of a European nation cowering to terror.
There were 270 victims of that attack, and the person responsible was released, only to receive a hero's welcome in Tripoli, Libya.
This raises two questions: Why was he released? And should we be revisiting our decision to remove Libya from the U.S. State Department’s list of terror sponsoring states?
His sentence alone was totally outrageous! A 27-year sentence equaling 36.5 days in prison for each person he killed. However, it’s far worse since he only served eight years, meaning that he only served 10.8 days per person that he killed.
Were the lives of Susan Cohen and Joanne Hartunian’s daughters or Bert Ammerman’s brother worth no more than 11 days of al-Megrahi’s time?
Scottish officials said that they were bound by Scottish values to release al-Megrahi because he had prostate cancer and was diagnosed to only have months to live.
Were they not bound by Scottish values to ensure that he was held accountable for the murders he committed? If not, that is a disgrace.
One of my all time favorite movies is “Braveheart” – the major motion picture directed by Mel Gibson, which was based on the life of Sir William Wallace, one of Scotland's greatest heroes.
In the late 1200s, Wallace fought passionately for Scotland’s freedom from English rule, and eventually died for his cause. Be it legend, rumor or actuality, Wallace knew more that 800 years ago that you had to fight for freedom and that that fight could never end.
Here we are in 2009 fighting an enemy that despises those very freedoms that Wallace fought for and that we so often take for granted. Be it the U.S. or U.K., Spain, Germany, Italy or Scotland, the enemy today is a global network of those like al-Megrahi who have found joy in the murder of innocent civilians all around the world.
They have no remorse for their actions, nor do they care for those left behind, and if given the opportunity to do it all over again, I promise you they would not hesitate a minute.
al-Megrahi should have remained in prison until his death. It is the least that the Scottish authorities could have done to demonstrate to the world, their determination to fight terrorism.
Releasing him is nothing but a slap in the face to the victims of Pan Am 103 and all those in the war against terror today.
Bernard Kerik served as the 40th police commissioner of the City of New York and Iraq’s interim minister of interior following the fall of Saddam Hussein. Today he is the chairman of The Kerik Group LLC. Visit his Web site at: www.thekerikgroup.com.
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