Harbouring Bahrain Convicts Brings No Credit To UK

Bahrain is upset with the UK. And for good reason. A Bahrain MP has even warned of anti-Britain protests in Bahrain. While colonial times have receded into the mists of history, First World countries still tend to treat nations in the Middle East and Asia cavalierely and assume a deprecatory attitude towards their judicial system. This is what Britain has done to Bahrain.

Britain has not only allowed anti-Bahrain protests by discredited elements. As if to rub salt into the wound, some of these protests have even been allowed in London’s Islamic centres. How can Britain allow a bunch of thugs to use religion as a cover for their so-called protests against a country?

Three Bahrain Convicts

What is even more galling is that among those who have organised or attended these events are some of the luminaries of the terroristdom. Qassim Hashim, 59, was convicted by a Bahrain court in 2013 for setting up a terrorist outfit by the name of Coalition of February 14. That group claimed responsibility for various glorious acts such as bombing ATMs, setting fire to car showrooms and causing blasts leading to deaths of expatriates. So was Saeed Shehabi, a fugitive sentenced to 15 years in absentia.

Bahrain convicts started coalition of february 14.
Coalition of February 14 throwing molotovs in Bahrain. Photo from Coalition video.

Another fugitive, Abdulraouf Al Shayeb was also in cahoots with Hashim and Shehabi and was given a life sentence by a Bahraini court for terrorist activities. He received a 13-year sentence for trying to topple the government and for a bombing.

And yet, all three were given safe haven in the UK and provided asylum. Was the UK trying to send the message that the judgements delivered by the courts of Third World countries count for nothing? All their cases were investigated, evidence gathered, and due legal process observed. They all had opportunity to defend themselves if they had any defence. One guesses the UK legal system operates the same way.

Terrorists Welcomed To UK, Then Jailed

But they fled and landed in the UK where they were welcomed for God knows what particular achievements. In fact, two of them were eventually unmasked and given jail terms by British courts! Hashim, it turns out, was a paedophile and was jailed by a UK court for 12 years for sexually assaulting three under-age girls, one as young as five years. Al Shayeb was put behind bars by another UK court when he was found with a memory stick loaded with military information on bombs and missiles.

The thing is, human rights outfits will try and defend anyone convicted in Third World nations as if the justice system there is flawed or not up to the mark. This bias is dangerous. The conviction by UK courts of two of the three Bahraini fugitives should be an eye-opener to the decision-makers in the upper echelons of the British government. They ought to put themselves in Bahrain’s shoes. How would they react if Bahrain were to embrace with open arms British terrorists convicted by British courts?

Brij Sharma is an Indian journalist and editor based in Bahrain. Brij tells us the interesting stories we don’t usually hear from the middle east country.