NEW YORK — By the time a wayward kid from Long Island named Bryant Neal Vinas joined al-Qaida in 2008, the sight of trainees swinging from monkey bars was a thing of the past.
The Afghani terror camps had been replaced by safe houses tucked away in the border region of Pakistan — houses made of mud.
“There’s no carpet. There’s no wood floors,” Vinas told a Brooklyn jury on April 23. “Just mud.” Vinas’ description of the crude Waziristan hideout came during the trial of Adis Medujanin, a New York City man convicted last week in a foiled plot to attack the subway system in 2009. Prosecutors had accused Medunjanin of receiving terror training and instructions from al-Qaida in Pakistan during a trip with two former high school classmates who pleaded guilty.
At Medunjanin’s trial, jurors heard Vinas and another high-value government cooperator born in Great Britain, Saajid Badat, testify as expert witnesses. They provided an unprecedented, firsthand look at al-Qaida in the heady days following the Sept. 11 attacks and in more recent years as it struggled to survive.
The testimony also gave the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn and British authorities a chance to show off two trophies in the civilian prosecution of terrorists — sworn enemies of America who, after their arrests, were persuaded to switch sides and tell everything they know.
Badat, 33, described growing disillusioned with al-Qaida. After hearing that admitted Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed would face American justice, he said he “felt … almost a moral obligation to give evidence specifically against KSM.”
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, was set to be tried in a civilian court in Lower Manhattan. But after an assessment on the costs, logistical and security measures that would be required, the Obama Administration has decided to move it. The new location has yet to be disclosed.
NYC is responding with mixed reactions: some don’t want a vivid reminder of the event, some are concerned about security. Some want him tried in a military tribunal, others want justice for victims in a federal courtroom where the attack occurred.
Mayor of the small upstate city of Newburgh says his community would be a perfect place for the trial. They have a new courthouse, security could be easily implemented, and it is only a 90 minute drive from Manhattan.
The trial of self-professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) is being protested by NYC residents, some of whom are family and friends of 9/11 victims.
Demonstrators held signs that read “no constitutional rights for enemy combatants”. Some booed the names of Attorney General Eric Holden and President Obama.
The trial has divided the families of victims. Some say the trial is an opportunity to face the perpetrators of 9/11, while others fear the former site of the World Trade Center will become a jihadist recruitment center and that KSM should be treated like a war criminal in a military tribunal.
In his effort to adhere to Consitutional values, not sacrifice democratic ideals for security, and better defeat an unconventional enemy, President Obama decided to try 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other Guantánamo Bay detainees for their actions as criminals in a NYC civilian trial. This move is a departure from former President Bush’s desires to try them in military court.
This article discusses 7 key issues the trial faces in living up to Obama’s ideals.
Self-professed 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM) will be tried along with four perpetrators in a Manhattan court just blocks from Ground Zero.
Attorney General Eric Holden is likely to pursue the death penalty for KSM.
He says of the decision, “For over 200 years, our nation has relied on a faithful adherence to the rule of law to bring criminals to justice and provide accountability to victims. Once again we will ask our legal system to rise to that challenge, and I am confident it will answer the call with fairness and justice.”
But the effort to criminalize the events of Sept. 11 and accord Mohammed the full panoply of rights enjoyed in a federal trial has infuriated and dismayed Republicans, as well as some organizations of victims’ families. They argued that military commissions at Guantanamo Bay offered a secure environment, a proper forum for war crimes, and adequate legal protections for a ruthless enemy.
“The Obama Administration’s irresponsible decision to prosecute the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks in New York City puts the interests of liberal special interest groups before the safety and security of the American people,” said House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) in a statement. “The possibility that Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his co-conspirators could be found ‘not guilty’ due to some legal technicality just blocks from Ground Zero should give every American pause.”