Jihadi John. Allegedly
The litany of knee-jerking hacks and pundits contained all the usual suspects: the Sun’s non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn, the Telegraph’s not at all celebrated blues artists Whinging Dan Hodges, the loathsome Toby Young, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, Andrew “Brillo Pad” Neil, and an assortment of other bloodlust seekers, all went after Jezza with a vengeance.
Why did they do this? It was because Corbyn had released a statement telling “it would have been far better for us all if he had been held to account in a court of law”. No matter that he had preceded this with “It appears Mohammed Emwazi has been held to account for his brutal and callous crimes”: that part is inconvenient to the bloodthirsty mob wanting More And Bigger Drone Strikes For The Benefit Of Themselves Personally Now.
Sadly, the bloodlust tendency, together with those who suggest there is something misguided about anyone saying Emwazi should have, if possible, been put on trial, misses one important point: there is a concept that goes by the name of international law, and the idea of putting on trial those who have been alleged to have carried out the most heinous of war crimes has, within this framework, significant previous.
Perhaps Newton Dunn, Hodges, Young, Staines and Neil have forgotten the recent example of one Radovan Karadzic, who was detained and taken to face trial for his part in acts of genocide in the former Yugoslavia. Dropping a few bombs on him would have been so much more convenient; the press would have no doubt approved. And then there is the clear example set by trying senior Nazis at Nuremberg.
But the example that comes most readily to mind is that of Adolf Eichmann, whose identity the Israelis confirmed before their operatives from the Mossad and the Shin Bet captured him in Argentina in 1960. Why bother with taking him to Israel for a trial, eh? Why not take the nearest automatic weapon and empty the magazine into the SOB? Job done! But the Israelis did put him on trial. And that was surely the right thing to do.
Emwazi was, by those standards, a mere maggot, but the principle is universal, and the sneering of cheerleading hacks does not diminish and certainly not negate it. We show that we have the moral high ground by declining to take part in the auction of bloodlust and instead upholding the rule of international law - by putting those accused on trial, so all can see justice being done. That is what makes us civilised.