Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Is the conviction of bin Laden’s son-in-law a triumph?

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Amy Davidsen has yet another thought-provoking article in the New Yorker. She’s worth following.

Eric Holder, the Attorney General, sounded very proud on Wednesday, after a jury in a lower Manhattan courtroom convicted Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, a son-in-law of Osama bin Laden, on three charges of terrorism and conspiracy. “This verdict is a major milestone in the government’s unrelenting efforts to pursue justice against those involved with the September 11 attacks,” Holder said in a statement. He said he could imagine “no more fitting outcome,” and was especially glad to have “proven that proceedings such as these can safely occur in the city I am proud to call home.”

In principle, this is all quite right. Abu Ghaith was arrested a year ago, indicted, and put on trial in open court. The public got to see the evidence against him, including images of him sitting next to bin Laden the day after 9/11, and of a speech from October 9, 2001, in which he said, “The Americans must know that the storm of airplanes will not stop, God willing, and there are thousands of young people who are as keen about death as Americans are about life.” Abu Ghaith took the stand in his own defense, describing the moment, in a cave in Afghanistan, when bin Laden told him that the World Trade Center had been leveled. He says he did not know about that particular plan beforehand, and prosecutors did not allege that he did. But they also persuaded a jury that he was not, as he argued, merely standing around, talking religion—that he had, as Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, put it, a “position in Al Qaeda’s homicidal hierarchy”—and was involved enough in Al Qaeda’s plans for the future to merit a conspiracy conviction. The jurors reached their verdict on the second day of deliberations. This is how terrorism trials work; this is what the Southern District of New York has accomplished dozens of times.

There was, though, one witness the defense wanted to testify but couldn’t bring to Manhattan: Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, who says he masterminded the attack. The problem wasn’t that he’s in a cave somewhere; K.S.M., as he’s known, was captured in September, 2002. He has been detained at Guantánamo since 2006, and before that was held in various secret prisons. Unlike Abu Ghaith, on whom he now has an extra decade in American detention, he has not yet been convicted.

And that is the reality from which Holder’s statement is strangely detached. He went on to say: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

29 March 2014 at 12:53 pm

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