In May, as our nation embarked on a prison-emptying spree to stop the spread of COVID-19, Washington state came within one state supreme court vote of letting two-thirds of its inmates free — including Gary Ridgeway, the Green River Killer, who was convicted of killing 48 women and could have killed as many as 80.
That effort to release “inmates over age 50, inmates with an underlying health issue including pregnancy, or inmates with 18 months or less remaining on their sentence” failed. Of course, no one would have let Ridgeway, one of America’s most prolific serial killers, out of prison if they were merely looking at the individual merits of his case, considering he’s serving 48 life sentences without the possibility of parole.
Adel Abdel Bary, on the other hand, was set to be released on Oct. 28. The name probably doesn’t ring a bell. You’re probably not immediately familiar with his case. However, when it comes to body count, Bary far exceeded Ridgeway, having played a part in no less than 224 murders. Twelve of those victims were American citizens.
To be fair, though, he was only a henchman in the crime. You may be familiar with the man he took orders from, though: Osama bin Laden.
According to the New York Post, Bary spent 21 years in a New Jersey federal prison for his role in the near-simultaneous bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa on Aug. 7, 1998. He was sentenced to 25 years in 2015, although he received credit for the time he spent in prison in the United Kingdom while he was fighting extradition to U.S.
According to the U.K. Sun, Bary was bin Laden’s de facto spokesman in Europe and prosecutors said he claimed responsibility for the truck bombings at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, carried out by the al Qaeda terror cell he led.
For a man like that, a 25-year sentence — shortened by credit for time served, no less — isn’t nearly enough, considering his crimes.
But a federal judge in Manhattan said his comorbidities made him a coronavirus risk — and released him even earlier than his sentence demanded.
“Defendant’s obesity and somewhat advanced age make COVID-19 significantly more risky to him than to the average person,” wrote U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan in his decision granting the release, the Post reported.
In addition to being obese, the 60-year-old Bary has asthma, according to his lawyers.
“Mr. Bary’s continued incarceration now significantly increases his risk of infection, which could wreak disastrous health outcomes,” his lawyer wrote, according to the Post.
Bary’s release was quietly granted on Oct. 9 and he was handed over last week to officials in the U.K. He joined his wife in their $1 million-plus apartment in London, the Sun reported. One of his lawyers told The New York Times in November that “all Mr. Bary wants is to enjoy a quiet life with his family.”
While Bary is Egyptian, the U.K. cannot deport him because he was granted asylum in 1997 and returning him to his native country would expose him to execution or torture, the Post reported.
“His return remains a huge headache for” British Home Secretary Priti Patel, a source in the U.K. told the Sun. “She is intent on ridding the country of threats, but here’s a notorious terrorist dumped right on her doorstep.”
And to add receipts to injury, the U.K. Daily Mail reported the British people would have to spend up to £400,000 monitoring Bury.
EXCLUSIVE: Osama bin Laden pal Adel Abdel Bary to cost taxpayer £400,000 after return to UK https://t.co/RtGlvfwZPD
— Daily Mirror (@DailyMirror) December 11, 2020
This, one hopes, remains Britain’s problem and Britain’s problem alone — although al Qaeda can certainly be an export business. It’s curious, the deference shown to Mr. Bary by releasing him 19 days early, however, when you consider the gravity of his crimes.
According to The New York Times, seven of the other conspirators in the case are serving life sentences. In fact, aside from witnesses who cooperated with prosecutors, Bary is the only man charged and convicted in the case who has been let out of prison.
The families of his victims are outraged.
“Just serving a sentence doesn’t mean that a person has been rehabilitated, doesn’t mean that their core thinking has changed,” said Edith Bartley, whose father and younger brother were killed in the bombings, according to The Times. “This is a person who can still do harm in the world.”
George Mason University professor Susan F. Hirsch, who lost her husband in the attack, called the sentence “on the lower end of just, as far as I’m concerned.”
But it’s 19 days, right? This isn’t Gary Ridgeway material. No, not precisely — but it’s part of the unnerving new normal when it comes to our penal system under COVID.
Nonviolent drug trafficker? Sure, spend these next few months under house arrest. As much as Michael Avenatti should be in a jail cell under normal circumstances, the fact he’s not currently behind bars doesn’t particularly bug me.
Bary’s light sentence, in and of itself, should disturb us. He was at the head of a terror cell that took 224 lives (that we know about).
And now, because of his adipose body and advanced age, he’s given an early release because of fears about the coronavirus.
Slightly early, yes — but this was a man who shouldn’t have been serving a day less than he was sentenced. I don’t wish death upon anyone. I also don’t think fears about COVID-19 could give special dispensation to those who did wish death upon people — and got their wish by the hundreds.
Serial killers like Gary Ridgeway stay in prison. Mass murderers like Adel Abdel Bary should be rotting there, too.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.