Wednesday, June 14, 2006

All in the al-Qaida Family at the NYT?

In Detainees in Despair, the NYT gave editorial space to a Frenchman, Mourad Benchellali, who was released from Gitmo in 2004 after he:

made the mistake of listening to my older brother and going to Afghanistan on what I thought was a dream vacation. His friends, he said, were going to look after me. They did — channeling me to what turned out to be a Qaeda training camp... I am a quiet Muslim — I've never waged war, let alone an symmetrical one [sic]. I wasn't anti-American before and, miraculously, I haven't become anti-American since. In Guantánamo, I did see some people for whom jihad is life itself, people whose minds are distorted by extremism and whose souls are full of hatred. But the huge majority of the faces I remember — the ones that haunt my nights — are of desperation, suffering, incomprehension turned into silent madness. [emphasis added]
Coincidentally, the very same day, CNN/AP reported that France has "convicted 25 people for their roles in preparing an attack in France in support of Islamic fighters in Chechnya."

Who was behind the plot you ask?

In handing down sentences, the court followed the prosecutor's office by giving the maximum 10-year term to the group's alleged chemicals expert, Menad Benchellali. However, Menad's father, Chellali Benchellali, an imam, or prayer leader, in the Lyon suburb of Venissieux, received only an 18-month suspended prison term -- far lower than the prosecution's demand for six years behind bars... The court convicted 24 defendants of criminal association in relation with a terrorist enterprise, a broad charge used by France to sweep wide in bringing terror suspects to justice...The Benchellali family was at the center of the case, with Menad's mother, Hafsa, and brother, Hafed, also on trial for roles in the plot to carry
out an attack in France.

Res ipsa loquitur (the thing speaks for itself). Moreover, one must also ask whether the younger Benchellali's earlier detention at Gitmo incapacitated him for enough time so that he avoided what would likely be his association with the family's larger criminal conspiracy that could have earned him a much longer sentence under French justice. Ironically, shouldn't the "innocent" Benchellali, instead, thank Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld?

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