Hold Al Shabab accountable in a court with universal jurisdiction

2013-09-24 10:50

Is there a South African connection to what went down and allegedly perpetrated by Al Shabab in Nairobi , Kenya? We need to know for sure. Allegations are viral that a 'white widow' held a South African passport.

What went down in Nairobi,Kenya was an act of aggression not only against a sovereign nation but every African.

Here's my take. Al Shabab must be held accountable in an international forum to put an end to this madness.

The privilege of living in a fragile constitutional democracy imposes upon all righteous South Africans a grave responsibility. The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish , in the shape and form of terrorism et al, are so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating, that we cannot tolerate their being ignored, because our constitution cannot survive their being repeated. We recoiled with revulsion when Malema went viral with his racial overtures and we stood up when rabid islamophobes murdered Favaaz Kazi in Ramadaan 2012. So when members of a movement, Al Shabab perpetrate such dastardly acts in a sovereign country like Kenya we cannot afford to remain unmoved like the sphynx witness to millennia of inhumanity.

That terrorism has reared its head, this time in Kenya ( it could happen here in SA) flushed with anger it would be a tall order to expect Kenyans to stay the hand of vengeance and voluntarily submit their captive enemies to the judgment of the law. Yet this is what I am asking.

Common sense of mankind demands that law shall not stop with the punishment of petty crimes by little people. I remember what Justice Jackson, lead prosecutor in the Nuremberg trial in 1945 said. It must, to paraphrase him, 'also reach men who possess themselves of great power and make deliberate and concerted use of it to set in motion evils which. leave no home in the world untouched." It is a cause of that magnitude as well as the need to hold to account not only the foot soldiers but also the generals in the shadows and those who are the cheerleaders. What happened in Nairobi, Kenya was not an isolated,random act of insanity but conduct that required careful planning and logistical support in their successful execution.

What makes this Kenyan terrorism significant is that those who perpetrated this crime,represent sinister influences that will lurk in the world long after their fate has been resolved either extra or intra judicialy.

We must expose them to be living symbols of racial and religious hatreds as well as bigotry, of terrorism and violence, and of the arrogance and cruelty informed by misguided zeal and ignorance. They are symbols of something other than mere supereficialism. Perhaps they embody fierce nationalisms and of militarism, of intrigue and war-making which have embroiled Africa generation after generation, crushing its manhood, destroying its homes, and impoverishing its life.

These terrorists have so identified themselves with the philosophies they conceived and with the forces they directed that any tenderness to them is a victory and an encouragement to all the evils which are attached to their names.

In Justice Jackson's refrain no civilised, rational person 'can afford (to) compromise with the social forces which would gain renewed strength' if dealt with ambiguously or indecisively. Vengeance,however, is not the way.

What these men stand for we must disclose with undeniable proofs. Their catalogue of crimes must omit nothing that could be conceived by a pathological pride, cruelty, and lust for revenge and retribution.

These evil men are creatures born in the petri dish of shadowy and nebulous people in no way connected with the essential truth of their faith. These are the fruits of the sinister forces that need to be destroyed.

They should be tried in an international court of law representing every sovereign jurisdiction.

The worldwide scope of the aggressions carried out by these men has left but few real neutrals including myself.

The notoriety of the act of Al Shabab and the adaptability of their conduct to provoke retaliation make it hard to distinguish between the demand for a just and measured retribution, and the unthinking cry for vengeance which arises from the anguish of those who became their victims.

But we must draw the line between the two. We must never forget that the record on which we judge these terrorists today is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass them a poisoned chalice is tantamount to putting it to our own lips as well.

We must summon such detachment and intellectual integrity to that duty that what ever action we take will commend itself to posterity as fulfilling humanity's aspirations to do justice.

To address the scourge of terrorism we need to develop something like the principles of the Moscow Declaration, in terms whereof those suspected or known terrorists who have been apprehended and who are not to be tried internationally must be turned over to individual governments for trial at the scene of their outrages.

And ,indeed notwithstanding the fact that public opinion already condemns their acts, we must agree that , once they're brought to trial, they be given a presumption of innocence, and we accept the burden of proving criminal acts and the responsibility for their commission.

We must develop principles whose purpose is not to incriminate every adherent of their faith but the very abominable deed they foist upon the innocent.

I reiterate that what went down in Kenya did not just happen-it was planned and prepared for over a long time.

Saber Jazbhay

@jazlaw24

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