Monday, May 25

The Terrorist Prisoner Not Mentioned in Obama's Speech

On Thursday President Obama made a speech on how to handle the terrorists the US is holding at GITMO, defending his goal of having the prison closed and moving some of the worst prisoners to prisons in the US. As part of his speech he mentioned a number of terrorists that the US is already holding in the US:
First, whenever feasible, we will try those who have violated American criminal laws in federal courts -- courts provided for by the United States Constitution. Some have derided our federal courts as incapable of handling the trials of terrorists. They are wrong. Our courts and our juries, our citizens, are tough enough to convict terrorists. The record makes that clear. Ramzi Yousef tried to blow up the World Trade Center. He was convicted in our courts and is serving a life sentence in U.S. prisons. Zacarias Moussaoui has been identified as the 20th 9/11 hijacker. He was convicted in our courts, and he too is serving a life sentence in prison. If we can try those terrorists in our courts and hold them in our prisons, then we can do the same with detainees from Guantanamo. - White House Transcript
This is all good, but it would be good to note that there is a special danger with handling prisoners who are willing to die for their cause. Take the case of a senior aide to Osama Bin Laden, Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, who is in a US Federal Prison:
The account of the attack on the guard, who was critically injured, came on the second day of a hearing in Federal District Court in Manhattan in which prosecutors are seeking to persuade a jury to impose the death penalty on a terrorist who bombed the American Embassy in Tanzania in 1998, killing 11 people.

The bomber, Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, 27, was never charged in the stabbing of the guard, Louis Pepe, but prosecutors told the jury this week that Mr. Mohamed assisted his cellmate, Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, in the attack, which they said was an attempt to take hostages and possibly free other terrorism suspects. The attack occurred on Nov. 1.

In eliciting the testimony about Officer Pepe's reference to giving ''them a fight,'' the prosecution appeared to be trying to show that both Mr. Salim and Mr. Mohamed were involved in the attack.

Officer Pepe suffered severe brain damage when a sharpened comb was plunged into his eye, and he is apparently unable to testify. - NY Times
So here are two terrorists in the custody of the Federal Prison System and while there almost killed one of the guards. They were convicted of killing hundreds in the African Embassy bombings. Interestingly enough, the President has decided to bring another terrorist from these same embassy attacks to try in the US. Just because, as the President notes, that no one has escaped from these Federal Prisons, does not mean that they cannot kill while inside prison.

Just to be clear, I have no problem trying these terrorists. My problem is that they want to try them like common criminals. Instead, they should be tried for crimes against humanity, just like the Nazis at the end of WWII.

The speech also included this bit of Presidential 'wisdom':

Meanwhile, instead of serving as a tool to counter terrorism, Guantanamo became a symbol that helped al Qaeda recruit terrorists to its cause. Indeed, the existence of Guantanamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained.

So the record is clear: Rather than keeping us safer, the prison at Guantanamo has weakened American national security. It is a rallying cry for our enemies.

Look, these terrorists were attacking us well before GITMO was a prison. These terrorists were attacking the US before Bush was President. Terrorists struck a number of times while Clinton was President and he was loved by the rest of the world. (African Embassy bombings, USS COLE, WorlD Trade Center...) The way the US treats it's enemies had nothing to do with it. the reason there are some many to deal with is because we invaded their 'safe haven' and hunted them down across the globe.

Yes, some have used all sorts of excuses to join their cause. However, those who have been recruited are just looking for a reason to back up their behavior, not for a reason to act.

Well here is a secret for our President, if they want to hate you, they will find a reason to do so. Take this study of Terror threats against Finland:

We spoke at some length with the Imam about the worldviews of the Muslim community in Finland. He believed that the views could be divided into three groups.

Firstly there are the Finnish converts who, despite having become Muslim by faith, remain ‘Finnish’ in all other ways, including knowing their rights as citizens.

The second group are immigrants who have escaped bad situations in their countries of birth and as a result feel a sense of gratitude to the country that has given them refuge.

The third group, which he believes to be the majority amongst Muslim immigrants across Europe, feel that it was the activities and policies of ‘the West’ that led to them having to leave their homeland – be that for economic reasons or non-economic reasons such as war. As a result, they feel that they owe no gratitude to the countries where they now live.

This sentiment will only be amplified if they face prejudice or a lack of opportunities once resident in Europe. Importantly, ‘the West’ is seen as a bloc – in many ways a mirror image of how the West tends to view “the Muslim World” in an undifferentiated way. Therefore Finland’s history as a young nation with a past of being a colony itself, makes no difference to it being seen as part of ‘the West’.

Two anecdotal stories Imam Chehab recounted to us suggest that if an individual already has a certain mindset – in this case that of Finland as part of the ‘oppressive West’ – then they will retrospectively find the ‘evidence’ to support this.

The first case concerned a TV documentary shown some years ago about the birth of Israel. One of the elderly Zionists who was interviewed noted that there had been a small number of Finns who had fought with them. Rather than dismissing these as probable mercenaries, adventurers or crackpots, the Imam remembered this was discussed by some as evidence that Finland was supportive of Israel and not sympathetic to the Palestinians.

Another similar anecdote was about a member of the congregation who showed the Imam an article he had discovered in an obscure history journal noting that during the 11th century Crusades, there was a Finnish regiment amongst the Christian armies which was reputed to be particularly blood-thirsty. This again was taken as indicative of Finnish attitudes to Islam a millennium later! Although individually these stories might seem almost comical, they do suggest a particular attitude amongst a few individuals who see Finland as no different from any other Western country.

At the very least they show a lack of understanding of Finnish history and society, again suggesting a failure of integration. Of course it will be only a few individuals who would justify their feelings against Finland in these obscure historical terms, but a failure of integration leading to marginalisation, unemployment, poverty and lack of educational opportunities will provide much more contemporary grounds for some to wish ill on the country. - FIIA Report, Pages 64-65 (Originally posted here)

Given this, GITMO is the least of our problems. Especially considering that the terrorists will use GITMO against the US for generations to come. So we might as well get the benefit from it.

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