Why this execution is wrong

November 11, 2009

John Allen Muhammad, who was accused of killing 10 people over a three-week period in sniper attacks around the Washington D.C. area in 2002, was put to death by the state of Virginia on November 11.

Muhammad suffered from severe mental illness and brain damage, partly caused by childhood beatings, according to an emergency appeal filed with the U.S. Supreme Court last week. The Supreme Court refused to hear his case, clearing the way for his execution, although three justices expressed concern about the haste with which Virginia sought to carry out the execution.

In this statement issued on the eve of Muhammad's execution, the Campaign to End the Death Penalty decries the senselessness of killing someone to show that killing is wrong.

THE CAMPAIGN to End the Death Penalty condemns the Commonwealth of Virginia's plan to execute accused sniper John Allen Muhammad. His death will serve no positive end--it will not bring lasting relief to the victims of his horrible shooting spree--and instead will only add to the list of meaningless victims of violence.

Worse, Muhammad's execution is an unnecessary and unwelcome distraction in the real debate about the effects of America's wars abroad on both soldiers and their families as they return home.

Sadly, Muhammad is only one in a long line of former soldiers who have committed terrible acts of violence after returning to civilian life. Along with fellow Gulf War veteran and Oklahoma City bomber Tim McVeigh, Muhammad's war experience irrevocably transformed him into a disturbed individual. Muhammad's wife, Mildred Muhammad, has stated repeatedly, "When he [Muhammad] got back, he was a very angry man. I didn't know this man. The one I knew stayed in Saudi."

In the aftermath of the recent tragic shootings at Fort Hood, we desperately need answers to questions regarding the impact of the terrible burdens of military service during wartime on soldiers. We need answers--we do not need more killing by the state.

John Muhammad appears in a Virginia court in March
John Muhammad appears in a Virginia court in March

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