For the last six months, terrorism expert Tom Joscelyn has been studying the thousands of pages of unclassified information that have been made available about the approximately 250 terrorists and terrorist supporters still held prisoner at Guantanamo Bay. He begins his report on that review in the current Weekly Standard.
During the Presidential campaign, Barack Obama’s pledge to close Guantanamo Bay was one of his cheap applause lines. What Obama proposes to do with terrorists like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is unclear; perhaps he means to “try” them as though they were criminals.
Joscelyn underlines the importance of the swift action that the Bush administration took after September 11:
Khan, Hambali, Zubair, and Lilie are all high value detainees at GuantÃ¡namo. They were plotting the “second wave” of attacks on America when they were captured. According to the GuantÃ¡namo files, Zubair and Lilie were both chosen to be suicide hijackers in an al Qaeda attack on Los Angeles. They had also plotted against targets in Southeast Asia under the direction of Hambali. Hambali was responsible, in part, for planning the 2002 Bali bombings (killing more than 200 people) and a series of attacks on 30 churches in Indonesia on Christmas Eve 2000 (killing 19).
In addition to serving as an intermediary between KSM and the Hambali crew, Majid Khan was involved in other post-9/11 plots. Khan, who lived in Baltimore for years, was planning to smuggle explosives into the United States. He wanted to target gas stations and landmarks such as the Brooklyn Bridge, and he recommended to KSM that a truck driver living in Ohio named Iyman Faris could help. Faris, who had trained at an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan, had begun preparations for these attacks. But within weeks of KSM’s and Khan’s capture, Faris was identified and arrested.
With respect to the fourteen “high value” detainees at Gauntanamo Bay, in particular, there is no good way to house them after that facility has been closed down. Perhaps the most appropriate course would be for the Bush administration to shoot them before Obama takes office.
In a related development, Rashid Rauf, the man who made the phrase “liquids and gels” famous, has been killed by a Predator missile in Pakistan. Rauf was from Great Britain, but fled that country after murdering his uncle (an act, by the way, that illustrates the difference between “crime” and “warfare”). Rauf was the brains behind the simultaneous attack on airplanes flying over the Atlantic that was narrowly averted in 2006.
I believe it was Trotsky who once said something like, “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.” That pretty well sums up the position in which Obama and his supporters find themselves.
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