From the Department of Bad Ideas: vigilante counterterrorism

From the Department of Bad Ideas: vigilante counterterrorism

Today’s AP story about Gary Brooks Faulkner, the American construction worker who went on a solo hunt for Osama bin Laden, has been getting a fair bit of play across the blogosphere. But Faulkner isn’t the only Jack Bauer-wannabe we’ve seen trying his hand at independent anti-terrorism.

Six years ago, Afghan police arrested a former U.S. Green Beret in Kabul who was running his own torture chamber. Jonathan Keith Idema — who, incidentally, also went by the nickname "Jack" — was found leading a group of six others in a bid to root out bin Laden:

A convicted felon, former Special Forces soldier and plaintiff against Fox News and Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks company, Idema contended that he and his team of Americans and Afghans were closing in on al Qaeda[‘s] leader.

Though Idema got a ten-year prison sentence for stringing up eight Afghans by their feet for 12 days, he got off light in the end, serving less than half of his jail term after Afghan President Hamid Karzai gave him an official pardon. Still, the episode is a pretty good reminder that fighting terrorism is perhaps best left to the professionals.