Last week, Ahmed Hassan was sentenced to a minimum term of 34 years in prison. The previous September, he had stepped onto the District line of the London Underground and left a homemade bomb on the train. At Parson's Green tube station, the device detonated. Fortunately for the commuters, which included many children on their way to school, only the detonator of the bomb went off. On its own, it created a fireball which ran along the roof of the carriage, singeing the hair of many passengers and causing an immediate stampede away from the blast and a number of injuries. The main explosive material the of bomb, however, which was packed with shrapnel, including bolts, nails and knives, failed to detonate. Had it done so, the United Kingdom would have seen -- for the fourth time in a few months -- dozens more dead victims, including school children, carried out in body bags.
London police outside Parsons Green Underground station, following the Ahmed Hassan's terrorist bombing there on September 15, 2017. (Image source: Edwardx/Wikimedia Commons)
All this happened because of a young man of Iraqi origin, who should never have been in the UK in the first place. Hassan moved into Europe among the migrant flows of 2015. He ended up at the "Jungle" migrant camp in Calais -- a place to which celebrities in the UK consistently go in order to implore the British people to take in the people who are living there. A particular cry of these celebrities (figures such as the actress Juliet Stevenson) is that the "child migrants" in particular should be taken in by the UK. The call is flawed, not least, in that it suggests that anybody who breaks the existing asylum procedures of the European Union and simply pushes their way to the front of the queue is somebody who will be rewarded for this act.
At the Calais camp, Hassan did not bother to wait for the British government to invite him. Most likely aided by the anti-borders NGOs who work in the camp, Hassan found out how to get around the system. In 2015, smuggled in the back of a lorry, Hassan arrived in the UK. If he had been a genuine asylum seeker, he could have -- and should have (under the terms of the Dublin Treaty) -- applied for asylum in the first European country where he set foot. Certainly, if there had been any legitimate reason for him to gain asylum, there was no reason why he should not have applied for asylum in France.
Once he arrived in the UK, it took some time for the British authorities to catch up with him. When they eventually did, and he was questioned by Home Office officials, he told them he had been a member of ISIS and had been trained by the group to kill.
He claimed to be 16 years old, although the authorities believed he was probably older. The open-borders NGOs are able to advise people in Calais and elsewhere that claiming to be a "child migrant" increases the likelihood of being able to stay.
A week later, housed at a Barnado's children's home, he was seen by a member of the staff looking up ISIS videos on his phone, and later, to be listening to extremist songs (nasheed).
Nevertheless, the British authorities helped him find a school. At Brooklands College, a teacher observed him reading a WhatsApp message which said "IS has accepted your donation." He told a teacher that it was his "duty to hate Britain". The state also placed him with a foster family, whom they failed to inform about his ISIS past.
Every effort continued to be made for this young man who had broken into the country. At Brooklands College in July 2017, he was even awarded a prize as "student of the year". Hassan used the £20 Amazon voucher he received to purchase the first of the ingredients he needed to build his bomb.
At every stage, the British state helped Hassan in every way it could. It took in a person who had no right to be in the country -- who indeed had entered the country illegally. It housed him, fed him, educated him and encouraged him. He repaid this by building a bomb at the home of his foster parents and trying to bring carnage to the rush-hour commuters on the London Underground.
Now that Hassan has been tried, convicted and sentenced for his crime, the British people may be surprised at the priorities of the authorities who are meant to keep them safe. But at the final stage of that process, the state produced one final insult against the people of the country.
This is how The Honourable Mr Justice Haddon-Cave concluded his sentencing on March 23:
Finally, Ahmed Hassan, let me say this to you. You will have plenty of time to study the Qur'an in prison in the years to come. You should understand that the Qur'an is a book of peace; Islam is a religion of peace. The Qur'an and Islam forbid anything extreme, including extremism in religion. Islam forbids breaking the "law of the land" where one is living or is a guest. Islam forbids terrorism (hiraba). The Qur'an and the Sunna provide that the crime of perpetrating terror to "cause corruption in the land" is one of the most severe crimes in Islam. So it is in the law of the United Kingdom. You have, therefore, received the most severe of sentences under the law of this land. You have violated the Qur'an and Islam by your actions, as well as the law of all civilized people. It is to be hoped that you will come to realise this one day. Please go with the officers.
First, what business is it of a judge to make such a statement? Why should Mr Justice Haddon-Cave think that being a judge in a British court also permits him to expound on Islamic theology? And what if he is wrong in his theological pronouncements? What if it is not the case that Islam "forbids anything extreme"? What if a lot of British subjects who are not Muslims discover that this judge is telling an untruth? What if he is wrong, and that the cure for a jihadist like Ahmed Hassan is not in fact confinement with the Quran and Sunna?
Mr Justice Haddon-Cave seems almost to suggest that "violating" the law of the Quran and Islam is an offense in itself -- one worth noting alongside the crime of putting a bomb on a packed commuter train. That his pronouncement was superfluous is obvious. That it is incorrect is at least equally so. But worst is that it will further erode the belief of the citizenry in their lawmakers.
In his sorry and violent life, Ahmed Hassan had already proven the incompetency of Britain's border-police and the ignorance or naivety of its Home Office officials. His final gift to the state that allowed him in was to bring about the over-reach -- and presumption and lack of awareness -- of its judiciary.
Douglas Murray, British author, commentator and public affairs analyst, is based in London, England. His latest book, an international best-seller, is "The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam."