Nearly Half of Convicted UK Terrorists Sentenced to Less Than Four Years Behind Bars

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Home Office figures released on Thursday revealed that nine of 49 convicted terrorists received jail sentences of less than one year, while an additional 13 offenders were sentenced to terms between one and four years. This means that 45 per cent of the convicted terrorists will be eligible for release after serving short sentences.

Only three offenders were handed life sentences in 2020, and just one terrorist was handed a sentence of over ten years. Fifteen more convicted terrorists were given sentences between four and ten years, the Evening Standard reported.

The data also showed that last year, some 42 terrorists were released from prison, including one offender who had received a life sentence. Of the 209 terrorists still in custody at the end of 2020, 156 were Islamist jihadis, while 42 were far-right radicals.

Terrorists, alongside other violent criminals including killers, sexual predators, and armed robbers, often are sentenced to “life” sentences in Britain. However, it is very seldom that these criminals actually serve the rest of their lives behind bars.

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Attempting to rectify this, in February of last year the government passed the Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Bill, which would prevent terrorists from being freed early.

The legislation followed the Streatham knife attack, which saw a convicted terrorist, Sudesh Amman stab two people days after being released halfway through his term.

But the legislation only mandated that convicted terrorists serve at least two-thirds of their sentences and be subjected to a parole board hearing, compared to the half-sentence which is required for most criminals in the country.

Some terrorists are arrested following early intervention from police, meaning that they were charged on lesser offences and therefore are only subject to short stays in prison. Last February, it was revealed that over the seven years prior, some 163 convicted terrorists were released early.

In 2020, terror-related arrests fell to the lowest level in nine years, with 185 people being arrested on terror offences amid an overall drop in crime during the coronavirus lockdowns.

Terror-related arrests fell among every age group, with the exception of under-18s, who saw a rise of over 50 per cent, with 19 being arrested, up from 12 the previous year.

The Met’s senior national coordinator for counter-terrorism, DAC Dean Haydon, said: “Despite facing unprecedented challenges brought about by the pandemic, counter-terrorism policing continued to keep the public safe by making 185 arrests across more than 800 live investigations – stopping three possible terror attacks in the process.

“While the rest of us have been focused on protecting ourselves and our families from this terrible disease, terrorists have not stopped planning attacks or radicalising vulnerable people online.

“As we follow the Government’s roadmap out of the tightest restrictions there will be greater opportunity for terrorists to operate, and we want the public to join the police, security staff and retail workers in a collective community effort to minimise the chance of attack. I would urge everyone to remain vigilant.”

The early release regime in the UK has seen many convicted terrorists be discharged into the communities they once terrorised.

One such terrorist, Mohammed Shahjahan, was convicted alongside the London Bridge killer in 2013, yet was ultimately released back into Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, despite having previously plotted to bomb the town.

Another notable example is Kazi Islam, a disciple of Islamist hate-preacher Anjem Choudary, who only served half of his eight-year sentence. Following his early release, Islam moved next door to his convicted terrorist uncle, Kazi Rahman, in East London.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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