Hassan Butt is a former terrorist. He admits this freely. He admits to having recruited British Muslims for jihad and raising money for terrorism. He admits all this because he has turned his back on Islamism and now fights against it. As part of that fight he is writing a book about terrorism and Islamism.
Last Sunday, Nick Cohen in the Observer spoke about the police's attempt to force the manuscript and sources to be handed over for investigation. He concluded:
If Butt and Malik are prosecuted, how the jihadis will laugh at the stupidity of a country that can't tell its allies from its enemies. 'Look,' they will say to their recruits, 'look at what happens to Muslims who go over to their side. Are they thanked? Are they honoured? No, they're prosecuted. All Muslims are the same to the British and there's no point in trying to please them.'Well, the police won the right to force the book to be handed over. Newsnight reports:
Hassan Butt's co-author, an independent journalist, has been ordered to deliver draft manuscripts and notes for the book to the Greater Manchester Police.The question must be asked, how stupid are we? What do we want? Do we want prisons full of Islamic terrorists or do we want a Britain free of Islamic terrorists? I think most people would prefer the latter. And this man is working, partly through this book, to help bring that situation about. We should be helping him, not impeding him. The police have already stated that he poses no danger, he has already done some work with the government to help stop Islamism being spread in Britain. So why would we interfere with that work?
Just a few days ago the Defence Secretary Des Browne suggested that we should try to reach out to members of the Taliban who might be persuaded to stop fighting. If we're prepared to reach out to them, why will we not do the same to the British Islamists. It seems that this government's approach to terrorism is muddled at best, but it looks more like incompetence and ineptitude.