Justice for Benghazi in a DC Courtroom

Benghazi

Last week a jury of twelve men and women heard the closing arguments in the first major terrorist trial in the United States since 2015. This week that same jury starts deliberations as to the guilt or innocence of an international terrorist. Ahmed Abu Khatallah, the leader of the terrorist group Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi is being tried for his role in the attacks on the U.S. diplomatic facility on September 11, 2012 and the attack on the CIA Annex on September 12th.  Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glenn Doherty were killed during these attacks. Two other Americans, David Ubben and Mark Geist were severely wounded.

Ahmed Abu Khatallah’s trial began in the US District Court in Washington, DC on October 2, 2017. This trial shows that justice for an international terrorist is capable of being rendered in our courts. But this is nothing new. Terrorist have been tried in US courts to include Ramzi Yousef (first World Trade Center Bombing), Omar Abdel-Rahman (Blind Sheikh), Zacarias Moussaoui, Richard Reid (Shoe Bomber), Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani (US Embassy Bombings), Sulaiman Abu Ghaith (Al-Qaeda Spokesman), and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (Underwear Bomber).

Presidential powers during war are entitled to a heavy measure of deference. Initially after the September 11th attacks the focus was to obtain intelligence on the second wave and additional plots by Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda had declared war on the United States. Thus, that is why terrorists were sent to Guantanamo Bay. However, with the passing of time the ability and need to obtain actionable intelligence had passed with the terrorists held in Guantanamo Bay. Ahmed Abu Khatallah was captured and interrogated as he was transported across the Atlantic Ocean by USS New York Navy ship. After being interrogated by intelligence officers, a “clean” FBI team came and “interviewed” him after advising him of his Miranda rights.  The statements given to FBI Agents aboard the USS New York were admitted into evidence by a Federal judge. This is the model for the future.

On June 6, 1945, Justice Jackson issued a written report to President Truman.  In the report Justice Jackson stated he had selected staff, worked out a plan for preparation, briefings and the Nuremberg trials. Justice Jackson also instructed those engaged in the collection and processing of evidence, visited the European theater to expedite examination of captured documents and the interrogations of witnesses and prisoners.

On October 7, 1946, Justice Jackson reported that the International Military Tribunal sitting in Nuremberg, Germany found 19 of the 22 defendants guilty and acquitted 3 individuals.  Justice Jackson mentioned the “magnitude of the task” that was under taken. I seriously doubt, William Gladstone, the English barrister and former Prime Minister said that “Justice delayed is Justice denied.  President Truman after World War II appointed one of the most able minds in the American legal system to secure justice.  Former President Obama stated in his first State of the Union that “there is no force in the world more powerful than the example of America.”  Since he came into office, too much time had been spent on the politics of closing Guantanamo Bay rather than how Justice might be that American example for the world.  Let’s not delay Justice any longer. We owe this to all those who have lost loved ones.

While President Trump campaigned on sending more terrorists to Guantanamo Bay both Ahmed Abu Khatallah and Mustafa al-Imam have been brought to the United States and brought before a Federal Court. The wheels of justice have been in motion ever since they have been brought before the District Court.  On Monday November 20, 2017, District Court Judge Christopher Cooper will have the jury in Ahmed Abu Khatallah’s case deliberating and he will then have a status hearing to proceed with Mustafa al-Imam’s trial.

The Military Tribunal System in Guantanamo Bay has been a failure since it has not delivered justice. President Trump should with all haste turn over the Guantanamo prisoners for trial in our Federal Courts. President Truman was blessed to have such an able Supreme Court Justice handle the Nuremberg Trials. But the politics today would probably never allow a sitting Supreme Court Justice to do what Justice Jackson did back then. Congress has shown no political courage to draft legislation that passes Constitutional muster and too often members of Congress have just used this issue for their own or their party’s own gains in the media and with voters.

No terrorists have attacked an American city because Zacarias Moussaoui, Ramzi Yousef, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith are serving out their sentences in prison. The Super Max Prisons in the United States can securely hold the Guantanamo Prisoners and would do so much cheaper.  The Rule of Law and Justice deems that those terrorist in Guantanamo Bay be tried for their crimes. And we must also seek to capture Sufian bin Qumu, and bring him to answer for his role in the Benghazi attacks. Qumu, a former detainee held in Guantanamo Bay was released to Libya in 2007. The Libyan Government released him from prison in 2008. Until then justice will remain fleeting.  And let us all take notice how the District Court in Washington, D.C. has gone about its business of being that stellar example of Justice and the Rule of Law.

 

 

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Abbottabad Documents Confirm Iran’s Sanctuary for Al-Qaeda

OBL

Last week the CIA released a treasure trove of documents from Osama Bin Laden’s Abbottabad residence.  One of those documents had a number of insights from an Al-Qaeda brother alerting Osama Bin Laden to what was occurring with the brothers who had traveled to Iran to escape the Americans invasion of Afghanistan.  The author of this document highlights what was occurring with Iran. None of the observations are a surprise but shows how Al-Qaeda and Iran operated during this period. The statements and the actions of Iran are also important for Americans to understand as we deal with Iran in the future. The below in italics are just a sample taken from the document.

 Anyone who wants to hit America, Iran is ready to support him and help him with money

. . . . but they are afraid of any evidence in the hands of America.

Al-Qaeda after the US military invasion of Afghanistan sought to exploit Sun Tzu’s old adage “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Al-Qaeda sent Mahfouz Ould al-Walid (Abu Hafs the Mauritanian) to Iran to reach out to IRGC and Al-Quds Forces to see if Al-Qaeda could move fighters and their families to Iran. This was not the first time that Abu Hafs had been to Iran. In 1995,  Abu Hafs had accompanied Saif al-Adel to Tehran on another matter.

Three months later we came to the orders of the brothers to go to Iran, and there was a lot of brothers.

Some of them with official visas where they took the visa from the Iranian consulate in Karachi.

Some of them without an original visa, then all after that or most of them entered by a different route legal, i.e. smuggling and cross-border infiltration, which is not difficult but is easy.

 But the purpose of the visa is to be in the passport etc. visa even if he wants to travel from Iran to another country, then he can do so easily, which many have done.

The mandate of Abu Hafs was that he would have the understanding with the Iranians to allow for our brothers to cross and stay in the country.

As Sun Tzu stated “All warfare is based on deception. Deceiving the Americans and the world would be important for both the Iranians and Al-Qaeda. The Iranians are Shia and Al-Qaeda’s fighters are all Sunni. One might think that these two opposites would never work together but when it has been convenient they have worked together. What was important to the Iranians was that they would be able to deny that they were offering a safe haven to their American enemy- Al- Qaeda. Abu Hafs would be the Al Qaeda representative in Iran with the understanding with the Iranians.

And they began to speak with Abu Hafs as the official of all the brothers, and included

conditions that the phone should not be used. . . . .

. . .  .do not do any activity or movements and gatherings that attract the principals.

All of these were security conditions

The Iranians were worried that Al-Qaeda brothers talking on phones and gathering would attract the attention of the Americans. But others felt safe in Iran and thought that there was no way the US could reach inside of the Islamic Republic of Iran. After all, Iran had been fighting a proxy war against America ever since 1979. The Al-Qaeda brothers felt safe in Iran.

But what happened was that our brothers did not abide by the agreements and Abu Hafs was not able to control them, they were of different nationalities, forms and types of humans.

Including the aggrieved and the anarchists and so on, did not adhere to the condition not to use phones, especially mobile phones. And on the terms of movement and gatherings.

And said the Iranians that the Americans have recorded a lot of your contacts.

… and the brothers came to us and protested to us, and that we harbor the terrorists and so on and your news

 . . . this is a danger to us, and we imposed on you our terms from the beginning.

Sun Tzu wrote that foreknowledge was “the reason the enlightened prince and the wise general conquer the enemy whenever they move.” Yet, Al-Qaeda’s brothers had disavowed the agreement and worse had shown contempt for America’s technical capabilities. This could cause the Iranians a bigger problem and they didn’t want to tempt fate after seeing how quickly American has taken over Afghanistan and removed Mullah Omar’s Taliban government. “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”

Whether Iran offered safe haven or house arrests for Al-Qaeda members, fighters and their families-there is no difference. Iran did provide safe havens for members of AL-Qaeda including individuals like Saif-al-Adel and members of Osama bin Laden’s family. Both Iran and Al-Qaeda see America as the great Satan and an enemy. America must never forget this and that often our enemies will work together because their true aims intersect. If the Iranians are willing to provide sanctuary to a terrorist group like Al-Qaeda right after September 11th what else might they undertake? The importance of this can’t be stated any clearer.

 

 

 

Terror in Mogadishu: Al-Shabaab Out For Death and Blood

Mog1  Mog 2

In 2016, Al-Shabaab was named the deadliest terrorist group in Africa having killed more than 4, 000 people that year. This year seems no different in Somalia. Recently the U.S. State Department in an updated warning on Somalia stated that “There is a particular terrorist threat in places where large crowds gather and Westerners frequent, including airports and seaports, government buildings, hotels, restaurants, and shopping areas.

Al-Shabaab continues to attack hotels, government leaders, and anywhere large crowds might assemble. On Saturday, October 28, 2017, five Al-Shabaab terrorists attacked the Nasahablod hotel in the Hamarweyne District of Mogadishu. A suicide bomber in a truck pulled up to the front gate of the hotel and pretended his vehicle was broken down. When the suicide bomber detonated the other attackers stormed the hotel wearing National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) uniforms shooting all they came in contact with. One terrorist detonated a suicide bomber vest as the other terrorists threw grenades and made their way inside the hotel which they held until the next morning. The terrorist killed 27 and injured over 30 individuals.

This is not the first time this hotel has been attacked.  In June, four gunmen wearing military uniforms stormed the hotel once again taking hostages and throwing hand grenades. A suicide bomber detonated his vest at the entry gate.  The terrorists killed 14 and wounded 11 during this attack. Two weeks before this attack Al-Shabaab terrorists stormed the Ambassador Hotel killing 15 including two members of the Parliament. Today in Mogadishu a ban was announced on tankers and overloaded trucks in the city. But this won’t stop Al-Shabaab attacks. Yesterday in Rasadaay, Al-Shabaab fighters forced the African Union Forces (AMISOM) to withdraw.

The number and magnitude of these attacks in Mogadishu threaten the Somalia government led by President Mohamed Abdullahi. Colonialism, civil war, corruption, Islamic ideology and terrorism have robbed the Somalia people of peace and prosperity over the last 30 years. On Monday the Trump administration said it would contribute an initial $60 million to help five nations (Niger, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania) in Africa’s Sahel region as it builds and trains a cross-border counterterrorism force. While the Sahel region is critical to defeating terrorists in the crossroads of Africa we can’t forget about the regional threat posed by the Al-Shabaab. The United States needs to double its efforts and take the leadership in getting regional partners to redouble their efforts to finally end the threat to the region posed by al-Shabaab terrorists. Six months ago, America lost a warrior sent into this dangerous land. Senior Chief Petty Officer Kyle Milliken, a dedicated son, husband, father and Navy SEAL was killed during an operation west of Mogadishu. As a Somali proverb states “When a snake is in the house, one need not discuss the matter at length.” The Al-Shabaab snake needs to be eliminated. Otherwise this area will continue to be a problem for the region.