Terrorist Loses Case for Early Release After Claiming New Prison Rules Breached His Human Rights

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 29: A Metropolitan Police Armed Response officer stands guard n
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The High Court has ruled against convicted terrorist Mohammed Zahir Khan who demanded to be released early from prison after he claimed that the government’s new rule which mandates terrorists serve the majority of their sentences was a breach of his human rights and discriminated against Muslims.

Parliament passed emergency legislation in late February that ended the automatic release of terrorists halfway through standard time-limited sentences. Instead, terrorists must serve at least two-thirds of their sentence in jail before being considered for parole. The Parole Board will only consider release before the end of their sentence if the terrorist is deemed not a risk to society.

The legislation was passed after two jihadists who had been released early from prison went on to commit acts of terror. In November 2019, Usman Khan killed two and injured others in a stabbing attack on London Bridge after he had been released halfway through his 16-year sentence. In early February, Suddesh Amman stabbed people in Streatham, London, days after being released from prison.

One of the 50-some terrorists to see their previously assured automatic release overturned was Mohammed Zahir Khan, who had been jailed in 2018 for encouraging terrorism, provoking racial tensions with Shia Muslims, and disseminating terrorist material. He was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison, and the Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Act was passed days before his expected automatic release date on March 1st, delaying his parole assessment until November.

Khan took his case to High Court, claiming that treating terrorist prisoners differently from other criminals was a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. Khan also alleged that the change in law would punish people with “particular Islamic beliefs” meaning it would “disproportionately” impact Muslims.

Two judges, however, disagreed with Khan, according to the BBC. Mr Justice Graham said it was “impossible” to consider a terrorist in the same manner as an ordinary criminal, saying that Parliament’s move in “altering arrangements for the early release of terrorist prisoners was a logical and rational response”.

The government also aims to increase the minimum sentences for the most dangerous convicted terrorists from ten to 14 years, with up to 25 years on licence. On May 20th, the government put forward the Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill, which would also “end[] early release for the most serious offenders who receive Extended Determinate Sentences – instead, the whole time will be served in custody”.

The bill has passed through the House of Commons and is due for its second reading in the House of Lords when lawmakers return to Parliament after the summer recess.

While the change in legislation has meant terrorists will spend less time on the streets, there have been increased concerns over the prospect of up to 150 exiled foreign fighters returning to the UK.

Following the Court of Appeal ruling that ISIS bride Shamima Begum can return to the UK to challenge in court in person the government’s decision to strip her of her British citizenship, the Henry Jackson Society warned that scores more could make similar legal bids.

Whitehall sources have also said that the prospect of more returning jihadists would represent a “headache” for security services, which are already monitoring 43,000 terrorists, 3,000 of which are being closely watched.

The government this week was told that it could challenge the Court of Appeal decision, so Ms Begum’s return had been put on hold.


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