Punishment of Terrorists

There is a strong view that terrorists should be executed for their acts. In the main, I don’t disagree. Capital crimes desperately want capital punishment: prompt execution.


Many of these terrorists are doing their deeds in order to become martyrs and to live in Allah’s heaven. For these, execution is a reward, not a punishment; for such as these, execution is a goal devoutly to be wished, not a deterrent.

Instead, I suggest, expensive as it would be, that wherever possible, those terrorists who are acting for martyrdom should be taken alive and allowed to die of old age in a prison cell. Here is punishment for the terrorist, and here is the possibility of deterrence: the price of failure being to live a long life in a cage, to be denied death except through the senility of old age.

One thought on “Punishment of Terrorists

  1. That is a possibility, PROVIDED there is no parole, there is never anything other than the supermax. Think Alcatraz, think Florence, think Cayenne (which included Ile du Diable). The problem is a change of administrations in democracy can lead to a change in those rules – witness Guantanamo. Ergo, I prefer to execute them – Utah’s firing squad is a fine example. There are aspects of Islam in general (in the current case) which could be exploited to reduce the attractiveness of this. Assuming (as I do) that the large majority of Muslims condemn these behaviors, they should be able to offer ideas.

    Even if we in fact give them what they want, they nonetheless will never get out of jail to fight another day, and kill another of us. And when enough of them die and nothing material in the Islamic universe gets better … the lesson may penetrate.

    If it doesn’t, Wretchard’s Three Conjectures may yet come to pass.

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