Just days before the 20th anniversary of their murderous handiwork, a military tribunal in Guantánamo Bay on Tuesday resumed the much-interrupted and multiply postponed trial of five masterminds of the 9/11 jihad attacks: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Walid bin Attash, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Ammar al-Baluchi, and Mustafa al Hawsawi. It’s understandable if you thought these men had been tried, convicted, and sentenced long ago; after all, it has been two decades since their crime. What has taken so long?
The trial was supposed to begin, finally, on January 11 of this year, but last September it was announced that it was once again being postponed, this time, predictably enough, because of covid. Yet as Newsweek reported Tuesday, “Despite the reading being presented over nine years ago, the case has not moved past the pretrial phase, facing a number of delays over the years.
But the main reason why has it taken nearly twenty years for these jihadis to face justice is because of one man: Barack Hussein Obama. According to Newsweek, “The men were formally charges [sic] in June of 2008. By that time, former President Barack Obama was close to taking office, having come off a campaign during which he promised to close Guantánamo. That led to a temporary suspension of the trial.”
After that, Obama’s self-described “wingman,” then-Attorney General Eric Holder, “decided that the trial should be in New York but was met with strong opposition.” This was based on the assumption that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the others were defendants in what was essentially an ordinary criminal case, rather than combatants involved in planning an act of war against the United States; the Obama administration was in the process of denying, on an institutional basis, that there even was such a thing as a global jihad.
Trying these men in civilian court would have been a continuation of the U.S. government policy of treating jihadis as if they were individual criminals, rather than soldiers in a larger war effort. The U.S. government has been extremely reluctant to admit that such a war exists, and so their policy has been to try jihadis in civilian courts.
If the U.S. had had this policy in 1943, it never would have admitted that it was at war with Germany, and would have tried every captured German soldier as if he were a criminal who had broken the law as a “lone wolf,” separately from all the others who did the same thing, and with no mention of the Nazi ideology that underlay it all. If the Allies had approached World War II the way the West has dealt with the jihad threat since 9/11, newspapers would have been filled with accounts of how masses of armed Germans had swarmed into Warsaw and Paris and Amsterdam and the rest, while authorities were trying to determine the motive of each one.
A trial in New York would also have given Mohammed, a skilled propagandist, and the others an international soapbox. Congress came to the rescue at that time, passing legislation “forbidding federal trials for Guantánamo prisoners, leading to new charges presented during their arraignment on May 5, 2012.” Still the delays continued. In August 2019, the Daily Mail reported that the announcement of the January 11 date was “the first time that a trial judge in the case actually established a date. Prosecutors had tried to get the ball rolling with two previous judges after the 2012 arraignment.”
All this has been happening despite the fact that years ago, Mohammed and the others for all intents and purposes admitted their role in the 9/11 jihad attacks, penning a lengthy Islamic defense for their actions in which they never denied plotting the hijacking of planes in order to commit mass murder of American civilians, but justified their actions by claiming that the U.S. was the greater terrorist. They signed the document “the 9/11 Shura Council.”
This was not a document obtained under torture, but a closely reasoned explanation of why the 9/11 attacks were justified from the standpoint of Islamic doctrine and belief.
Nevertheless, according to the Daily Mail, “the case was also delayed when President Barack Obama suspended the war court, in an attempt to add more protections for due process.”
How was due process ever under threat? These men signed their names to a document that essentially admitted their complicity in planning the attacks. But that apparently cut no ice with our sainted former president, whose only sin, our Leftist moral superiors hasten to assure us, was once wearing a tan suit.
And so now twenty years have passed between the jihad massacres these men perpetrated and their trial. This epitomizes the unwillingness of American officials, even today, to come to grips fully with what happened on September 11, 2001, and to formulate a coherent and realistic response to the global jihad threat that continues to plague the world so many years after that catastrophic day.