A Terrorist is a Terrorist, In UK or Bahrain: UK Finally Takes Action

UK Finally Takes Action After Interests Threatened

When does a man turn into a certified terrorist? Is it when a country such as Bahrain, actually suffering from that terrorist and the outfit he is part of, convicts him after a trial? Or is it when a First World country, ignoring the trial and the verdict for a long time, finally declares him a terrorist when its own interests are hurt?

The case of Abdulraouf Al Shayeb shows that the latter is the case. A British court last week sentenced him, a wanted Bahraini fugitive, to five years in jail on terror charges.

But the UK government had kept silent and not reacted when Bahrain had previously tried and convicted Al Shayeb on terror charges in absentia, nor was he arrested and handed over to Bahrain in the wake of the Bahraini verdict though he was living in the UK. In fact he often met Britain’s Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. It was only when the UK felt threatened by him that it targeted him.

al shayeb with jeremy corbyn
Abdul Raouf alShayeb with Jeremy Corbyn

Terror Offences Were Known

Reacting to the conviction, Bahrain’s Public Security Chief Major-General Tariq Al Hassan was quoted by the local Gulf Daily News as saying that Al Shayeb had been convicted of similar terrorist-related offences in the kingdom. He referred to two cases where Al Shayeb was found guilty of serious terrorist offences within Bahrain, including a 2011 terrorism case in which he received a life sentence, and his involvement in a bombing in the Riffa area of Bahrain, for which he received a 13-year sentence.

Bahraini court documents show Al Shayeb’s movements between Iran, Iraq and Lebanon to receive logistical support and finance for terrorist activities within Bahrain, he said. He was also handed a 15 year imprisonment in absentia for setting up an outlawed terror group in Bahrain.

He was convicted in 2012 in Bahrain for trying to overthrow the monarchy after hatching a plot to form a militia with links to Iran known as the Coalition of February 14. In the past four years, the group has claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist acts in Bahrain including ATM bombings, attacks on car showrooms and blasts that resulted in the deaths of two Asian expatriates.

Al Shayeb was named as one of the terror cell’s two ringleaders by Bahrain’s Public Prosecutor in November 2011, but had fled to the UK and up until recently was working as a translator at the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London, according to the Gulf Daily News.

Human Rights Groups Often Support Terrorists

The question is, why was he allowed to remain at large and roam free in the UK following his conviction by Bahrain? Was it because after all these years western countries still continue to harbour a colonial mindset where the judicial system of a third world country is still suspect? Perhaps.

But equally to blame are Western human rights groups and parliamentarians who tend to protect such notorious elements with their sympathetic statements whereas they need to more closely scrutinize the activities of such elements while validating the claims and authenticity of individuals such as Al Shayeb. On the contrary, they seem to unwittingly promote and aid violent political extremism and the type of terrorist activity practised by Al Shayeb.

It is as if a terrorist convicted by a country suffering due to his actions has to be certified by a western court before he is declared a real terrorist.

al Shayeb with weapons
al shayeb with weapons in Iraq

For the record, Al Shayeb was sentenced by the UK court after a computer memory card loaded with military files on “bombs, missiles and destruction” were found at his home in – of all places – London. He was arrested at the airport as he returned from Iraq.

Another memory card had pictures taken in Iraq showing him in combat fatigues and holding a handgun with what appeared to be an automatic weapon at his side. He claimed to be a human rights activist during the trial which the UK judge dismissed as bogus.