Thursday, May 04, 2006
THE DEATH PENALTY AND ZACARIAS MOUSSAOUI
FrontPageMagazine has an article up by Robert Spencer titled "Sympathy for the Devil" that presents an argument for the death penalty. Since that has been a subject here, I think it's worth noting. According to the article:
Any normal person faced with either execution or life imprisonment might rejoice at being granted the latter, but why would Moussaoui characterize this as a victory for himself and a defeat for America?
The answer can be found in the ideology that motivated Moussaoui to get involved with Al-Qaeda and the 9/11 plot. He told prosecutors that he felt “no regret, no remorse” for 9/11: “We want pain in your country. I wish there would be more pain.” Why? At his death penalty hearings, according to AP, Moussaoui “told jurors that Islam requires Muslims to be the world’s superpower as he flipped through a copy of the Koran searching for verses to support his assertions. One he cited requires non-Muslim nations to pay a tribute to Muslim countries.” It is likely that he cited Qur’an 9:29, which commands Muslims to make war against the “People of the Book” (i.e.. primarily Jews and Christians) until they pay the jizya, a poll tax not collected from Muslims, and “feel themselves subdued. An echo of this verse comes through in Moussaoui’s statement that “we” -- the Islamic world -- “have to be the superpower. You have to be subdued. We have to be above you. Because Americans, you are the superpower, you want to eradicate us.”
It is unlikely that he is going to change that mindset in prison. But who will be his cellmates? Americans. Not just the common street variety. Criminal Americans. It is often said that prisons are the schools of crime. What are the other prisoners likely to learn from Zacarias Moussaoui?
The article answers that question:
Moussaoui himself could become a heroic figure, most especially in whatever prison in which he is ultimately incarcerated. He will provide a new impetus for prison conversions to Islam, and a rallying point for jihad recruitment in his prison. This may be the most important reason of all why Moussaoui declared victory on Wednesday: he can see himself training up the next generation of mujahedin who will see his great battle for Allah through to final victory over the American Great Satan.
It is assumed by the Catholic argument to abolish the death penalty that society can be made safe without the need of it. That takes for granted that "society" and "prison" are two arenas that do not overlap. That, however, is not the case. In addition to the guards there are the Christians who try to make a difference in the prisons. There are other prisoners who must find a way to get along with each other. How will Moussaoui's cellmates find living conditions under his tutelage? And what will they learn that they can put to use when their sentence is completed?