On Sept. 11, the nation remembers that fateful day in 2001 when the earth shook, the buildings fell and the innocent were slain. On that day, we vowed as a nation to bring to justice, or bring justice to, those who committed the acts of terrorism. We did. Leaders of the radical Islamic organization al Qaeda were either captured or killed. Osama bin Laden was taken out by a team of special operations forces while hiding in Pakistan. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks, has been captured and is being held in Guantanamo.
With the influx of additional terrorists captured, there arose a debate regarding whether terrorists should be tried in the courts or by a military tribunal. The controversy was never settled one way or the other. Mohammed is awaiting a military trial along with several other co-conspirators. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the “underwear bomber,” was given his Miranda rights, and charges against him were filed in federal court. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison in February. Numerous lesser-knowns were tried in the U.S. courts and sentenced to long terms of incarceration with special administrative measures imposed on their conditions of confinement.
Unfortunately, the story doesn't end there. Once jailed, the jihadist does not surrender - he just takes a different path.
Case in point: John Walker Lindh, "the American Taliban" captured in November 2001 in Afghanistan fighting along side al Qaeda and Taliban members against U.S. military forces.
Among the charges filed against him were conspiracy to murder U.S. citizens and providing material support to terrorist organizations. He entered in a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney General's Office and was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.
This year he joined with several other Islamic terrorists in filing suit against the Bureau of Prisons for violation of his rights. He states that he and the other terrorists have the right to
get together five times a day to "pray" in accordance with his religious beliefs.
These would be the same beliefs that led 19 hijackers to kill almost 3,000 innocent Americans in one day.
He contends that allowing them to meet frequently for religious purposes does not pose a security threat. Hopefully the prison administrators will remind the Judge of the case of convicted Islamic terrorist El Sayyid Nosair. Nosair, while an inmate in Attica State prison in 1992, regularly met in the prison mosque with other muslim inmates for religious purposes It was there he convinced two of them to assist him in making phone calls to the Blind Sheik, Omar Adbel Rahman and several others as they conspired to bomb the World Trade Center on February 26, 1993. The subsequent investigation revealed that Nosair utilized prison phones, visits, and religious privileges to commit a terrorist act while incarcerated.
Lindh is not the first, nor will he be the last to use the courts to challenge his prison time. The al Qaeda terrorist responsible for the bombing of the US embassy in Tanzania in 1998 has also asked a judge to loosen his prison conditions. Khalfan Khamis Mohamed was convicted along with Mahmoud Salim for the attack in Dar es Salaam that killed eleven and wounded eighty five.
If that were not enough, while both were being held in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York, Khalfan and Mahmoud brutally assaulted Correction Officer Louis Pepe, stabbing him in the eye with a jailhouse shank, and then pouring a searing hot liquid in the wound. The resulting injury caused a permanent disability to Officer Pepe.
In filing his lawsuit, Khalfan claims he is rehabilitated and no longer a security threat to the prison or correctional staff. He wants to be able to mingle with the general population, receive visits from friends and family, and call whomever he wants on the phone. After all, he has rights, doesn't he?
What have we, as a free society, learned from this regarding effectively dealing with terrorism?
Well, if you incarcerate a terrorist, you grant him access to the courts. If you grant a terrorist access to the courts, you give him rights, and a terrorist will use those rights to continue to advance the jihadist goal.The war does not end for them when they are captured.
Those terrorists who have been in prison are starting to become "jail wise" in using the legal system to advance their cause. They also find a sympathetic ear and support from groups like the ACLU or the Human Rights Commission.
And in touting their "rights" they make a mockery of justice and insult the memory of the fallen.
Hopefully, the judges who hear these cases will heed the counsel of prison security administrators and not be swayed by the crocodile tears of the incarcerated terrorists.