Domestic terrorist Herman Bell is a free man, walking the streets. And if a New York judge has his way, fellow terrorist Judith Clarke will be free as well.
This raises an increasingly important question: How many more convicted terrorists are already out there? It is impossible to answer accurately.
Since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, more than 500 people have been convicted in the U.S. of terrorist crimes. That number increases when you add in people, who – although investigated for terrorism – were allowed to plead guilty to a non-terrorism offenses such as wire fraud or illegal possession of a weapon.
For example, Edwin Lemmons was arrested by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force after he traveled overseas for jihadist training, yet he was only charged with possession of an assault rifle.
What happens when a terrorist is incarcerated is important. We know that there is currently no adequate prison program in place that deals specifically with rehabilitating terrorists. The federal Bureau of Prisons response to that alarming fact is to inform us that it “offers the same re-entry opportunities for all inmates.”
Does a convicted jihadist really need to learn how to make license plates? Or in the case of bomber Ahmad Khan Rahimi, does it help for him to take drama classes?
While these failures are troubling, what happens when terrorists are released from prison is exponentially more important.
Without a viable post-release program, terrorists who complete their sentences could just be dropped off at a gas station and told to take a bus somewhere. That’s exactly what happen to Shaker Masri after serving seven years in prison for attempting to travel to Somalia and join al-Shabaab, an Al Qaeda affiliate.
The recent case of Casey Charles Spain is an example of why we need a national registry for convicted terrorists.