At times it seems that we intentionally set out to piss off not just Muslims but the entire world. This week it’s the Pentagon admitting that we used chemical weapons in Iraq (and commenters, please don’t write indignantly that white phosphorous isn’t technically a “chemical weapon” or that phosphorous shells aren’t outlawed by any convention the U.S. is a signatory to), and the much less covered story of Babar Ahmad’s potential extradition. In the case of Fallujah, our soldiers having used white phosphorous against Iraqis is not only abhorrent (and from a practical standpoint clearly did little to counter the insurgency), but the revelation only increases world-wide anger against the U.S..
What is also guaranteed to cause further resentment against the U.S. this week is that Babar Ahmad, a citizen of our closest ally the U.K. who is awaiting extradition to the U.S. on terrorism charges, is one step away from being flown to this country. Why, one might wonder, would the U.K. even entertain an extradition request on one of its own citizens when no evidence of any criminal act in the petitioning country has been shown to the authorities? Why indeed. But a 2003 treaty between the U.S. and the U.K. allows for precisely that, and it seems that the British Home Office is pushing hard to send Mr. Ahmad our way. Imagine, if you will, that an American citizen living in the U.S. were accused of terrorism by France, and that France asked for that citizen to be extradited to Paris to stand trial without presenting the Justice Department with any evidence of a crime on French soil. How might Americans feel if the government agreed to send him or her to face trial in a French court? ‘Freedom fries’ anyone?
Perhaps it's American bullying or mind-boggling British (or Blair government) subservience to the U.S. that brings us a case like Babar Ahmad’s, but it's not clear how extraditing him to the U.S. serves any real purpose in the “war on terror”. If he’s dangerous, can’t our buddies the English take care of him? If there’s no evidence, or the evidence is weak, are U.S. courts more likely to throw him in jail than British courts? What he's accused of, running jihadist websites, affects his own country just as much as it affects the U.S., after all. One presumes that even if the British were to release him and never charge him with any crime, the authorities would watch him like a hawk for the rest of his life, no? Surely he would no longer be permitted to run his “terrorist” websites or engage in any behavior that might be cause for concern. Given that extraditing him to the U.S. can only make Muslims and indeed many others in the world hate us even more than they already do, then what pray, is the point?