Thursday, July 28, 2005

Good News Comes to Those Who Wait

I had been disappointed--make that disgusted--by Seattle's Judge Coughenour's tepid sentence to would-be terrorist Ahmed Ressam and outraged by his Honor's ridiculous remarks:

"This sentencing is one that I have struggled with a great deal, more than any other sentencing that I've had in the 24 years I've been on the bench."

Why? What's to struggle over? The man came here for the sole purpose of murdering as many Americans as he possibly could. What's hard about sentencing him?

Coughenour droned on, "Despite the fact that Mr. Ressam is not an American citizen and despite the fact that he entered this country intent upon killing American citizens, he received an effective, vigorous defense. Most importantly, all of this occurred in the sunlight of a public trial. There were no secret proceedings, no indefinite detentions, no denial of counsel."

Yeah, and the horse you rode in on. His Honor never stopped pounding his chest long enough to evaluate the wisdom of a 22-year sentence, with time already served counting against it. Do the math, Ressam will be free to bomb Americans again in less than 15 years.

But that was yesterday. Today, I read the excellent news that a Yemeni cleric has been sentenced to 75 years in prison for supporting Islamist terrorism. Now, that's more like it. If you want a fair sentence for a terrorist, take the trial downtown to New York City, where they understand the results of terrorism better than most.

Expecting a light sentence from a judge in NYC? "Fugget-a-boud-it!"

And there was more good news today. A fatwa, or legal pronouncement on a single issue, was issued by an American Muslim organization, the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA), denouncing Islamic terrorism. Now, keep in mind that fatwas are not like papal edicts. They don't apply across the board. Fatwas, rather than binding all of Islam, pertain only to those leaders who issue it and to their followers. Even so, this is an important step in a positive direction.

From Pakistan, to China, the FCNA's action had media coverage. A German iman issued a similar statement today in Hamburg. The evidence is that Islam is starting to communicate worldwide on this topic. This sudden, deliberate movement of the international Muslim community to differentiate itself from Islamo-terrorism is a promising beginning on a very sore subject, one that has been neglected for too long. It's way overdue that we hear from Muslims themselves, speaking out against the hijacking of their faith by blood-thirsty murderers.

The fatwa stated that "those who commit terrorism are 'criminals' not 'martyrs' and that it is both the civic and religious duty of Muslims to "cooperate with law enforcement authorities to protect the lives of all civilians."

Judge Coughenour has some catching up to do.