A terrorist’s plea bargain

Ali Saleh Khalah al Marri, who returned to the U.S. (where he had legal residency) on September 10, 2001 as an al Qaeda sleeper agent, has agreed to a plea bargain with federal prosecutors. Under the agreement, al Marri could serve up to 15 years in prison.

Al Marri was tasked by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed with investigating several types of attacks on the U.S., including poisoning water reservoirs. His laptop, which was loaded with al Qaeda propanganda videos, contained research on cyanide and sulfuric acid.

Al Marri’s plea bargain states:

The defendant researched online information related to various cyanide compounds. The defendant’s focus was on various cyanide substances, including hydrogen cyanide, potassium cyanide, and sodium cyanide. The defendant reviewed toxicity levels, the locations where these items could be purchased, and specific pricing of the compounds. The defendant also studied various commercial uses for cyanide compounds. The defendant also explored obtaining sulfuric acid.

The defendant agrees that the government would prove at trial that sulfuric acid is a well known binary agent which is used in a hydrogen cyanide binary device to create cyanide gas, and that this is the method taught by al Qaeda for manufacturing cyanide gas. The defendant further agrees that the government would prove at trial that his research into various cyanide compounds is consistent with the type of research conducted by persons trained in camps teaching advanced poisons courses to terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda. The defendant also agrees that the government would prove at trial that an almanac recovered in the defendant’s residence was bookmarked at pages showing dams, waterways and tunnels in the United States, which is also consistent with al Qaeda attack planning regarding the use of cyanide gases.

In other words, as Tom Joscelyn puts it, when he was captured “al Marri was in the midst of plotting an attack using a form of cyanide gas on dams, waterways, and tunnels in the United States.”

Yet, as Joscelyn reminds us, al Marri has been viewed by some on the left as a victim. For example, the New York Times editorial board wrote in July 2008 that “the government, which says [al Marri] has ties to Al Qaeda, designated him an enemy combatant, even though it never alleged that he was in an army or carried arms on a battlefield. He was held on the basis of extremely thin hearsay evidence.”

But the government was not relying on hearsay evidence; it had al Marri’s laptop. And it is clear that al Marri was indeed an enemy combatant; he was an al Qaeda agent who was plotting deadly attacks on our infrastructure, attacks designed to kill Americans on a large scale. His “battlefield,” Joscelyn points out, was the U.S.A.

If the New York Times wants to champion the cause of terrorists like al Marri, that’s its right. But it shouldn’t misstate the facts about those it has chosen to champion or pretend that they are other than bloodthirsty terrorists.

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