23 Aug. 2006

Australia's judicial 'disproportionate response'

Gotta love the Gitmo-style orange jumpsuit.

For three charges, Faheem Khalid Lodhi has been sentenced to twenty years in prison (quotes from SMH article):

  • "Seeking information from a chemicals company about the availability off [sic] chemicals to manufacture explosives." I'm not sure, but I suspect the enquiries weren't of the "I want to make a bomb, what chemicals do I need?" order implied here, so much as inquiries about chemicals which might be used for bomb-making.

  • "he purchased maps giving false identification, maps of the Australia electricity supply system." I have no idea what a 'map giving false identification' is; a mislabelled map? Maybe they mean that he purchased some kind of fake ID.

  • "He also had a 15-page "terror manual'', which he had handwritten in his native Urdu, which contained information about making poisons and bombs."

    This evidence convinces me that Lodhi was thinking about bombing the electricity supply system. It convinces me neither that he was going to bomb the electricity supply system, nor that he was even thinking about killing anyone. Really, he has been convicted not of acts but of being a 'terrorist', on the basis of a discernible essence, which has been determined via the equation Muslim + beard + terror manuals.

    It is the new Dranconian laws that are to blame. Under Australia's old laws, the authorities could have surveilled the guy and waited to see if he did anything, like actually acquiring the chemicals, or making them into explosives, or trying to use these explosives. Making inquiries about buying knives while also possessing a handwritten manual about how to cut people up, and the address of someone you have cause to want to stab is not tantamount to attempted murder.

    See also my post about his conviction two months back.