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A Bad Weekend for Law Enforcement
Well, it was a bad weekend for law enforcement officials on several continents, and a good one for the _jihadists_ and their support network. Thanks to Josh Lefkowitz of the NEFA Foundation for flagging these items.

These cases illustrate key advantages the Islamist groups have over those operating in a state-centric legal framework. The laws simply cannot, and have not, kept up with the changing realities of the world in which we live. Our legal systems, here and abroad, are extremely slow in defining new threats as crimes and providing a legal framework in which to prosecute and punish them.

This is, of course, a great strength of democratic systems-there has to be a consensus before certain types of behavior are criminalized. But the flip side is that we get dangerous ruling while the overall process is sorted out.

The other advantage is in the sphere of religious sympathy and/or corruption that allow laws to be bent beyond recognition.

Of course, corruption is not limited to Pakistan and elsewhere "out there." There have been many cases in this country where money louder than the law or one's conscience.

The most egregious case is the escape of Rashid Rauf from Pakistani police custody. Rauf is a British-Pakistani suspected of being a leading figure in the plot dismantled in London in August 2006, designed to blow up several transatlantic flights.

Rauf, who had fled to Pakistan, was due to be extradicted back to the UK in a few weeks to stand trial for murder, as well as investigations for terrorist activities.

His police guards allowed him to enter a mosque alone to pray as they returned to prison and (gasp, shock, horror) he didn't come back.

The Pakistani government, of course, is expressing deep regret, promising a full investigation, etc. etc. Several relatives have been arrested etc. etc. Perhaps some policemen were accomplices, etc. etc.

Something about the whole incident makes one wonder about the sincerity of the Pakistani security apparatus. Was a money, or the close ties the Pakistani security apparatus has to radical Islamist groups? Both?

Rauf is important because of his ties to Jaish-e-Mohammed (the Army of Mohammed), a radical Islamist group whose primary focus is the Kashmir conflict, but which has also been linked to the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

Another incident shows the difficulties democracies have in seeking to prevent terrorist attacks while protecting civil liberties.

The United States does not have "control orders," as the British do. The closest thing might be the Treasury/OFAC freezing orders on certain individuals suspected of wrong doing, and depriving them of their financial holdings.

In this case, the person in question skipped out on his control order, which severely curtailed his activities, but argued that he had a "legitimate right" to break the law because he was not charged with a crime and the order was making his life miserable. The jury agreed with him

If there is another terrorist plot in which he had a hand, we will rue the day and curse the jury. If he is innocent of ties to radical Islamist groups, we will be ashamed we curtailed his liberty.

This is perhaps the most difficult aspect of the current war on radical Islam. We have rules that constrain our behavior, and they don't. Not hard to see who is fighting at a disadvantage in this one. The question is how to make the legal system more flexible and quick to respond. There may not be a good answer.

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