Bin Laden was never indicted for 9-11; what he represented for Muslims

By John Whitbeck – Below are the final five paragraphs of an otherwise not particularly interesting op-ed in today’s ARAB NEWS (Jeddah). I am circulating them for two reasons:

1. I suspect that they reflect widespread (even if prudently unspoken) feelings in the Arab world and beyond — and help to explain the sobbing and tears at the Grand Mosque in Mecca observed by a former British ambassador and reported in one of my recent messages.

2. The concluding paragraph’s reference to Osama bin Laden as the “so-called architect of 9/11” gives me an opening to comment on an intriguing article published in yesterday’s International Herald Tribune (and presumably in the New York Times as well). The article reports: “Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are expected to file court papers this week that will formally ask a judge to dismiss all charges against Osama bin Laden.” The article goes on to note that the case began “with an indictment on June 10, 1998, and expanded over the years with later versions”, the final version being revised to include “the deadly attack on the destroyer Cole in 2000.” As with Sherlock Holmes’ dog that did not bark, the most significant aspect of this article is what it never mentions — that Osama bin Laden was never indicted for involvement in the 9/11 events.

It has been frequently commented upon that the FBI’s “MOST WANTED” charge sheet for Osama bin Laden never included any alleged 9/11 involvement and that, when the FBI Director was queried about this some years ago, he replied, with commendable honesty, that the FBI did not possess any evidence of such involvement which would stand up in a court of law.

As I have noted in another recent message, notwithstanding an early promise by Colin Powell, the Bush-Cheney administration never publicly released any evidence it may have had regarding Osama bin Laden’s involvement in the 9/11 events, and it may reasonably be surmised that none (or none taken seriously by professional prosecutors or investigators) was even provided to the Department of Justice or the FBI, which evidently managed to maintain certain evidentiary standards for issuing indictments or leveling charges with respect to serious criminal charges.

At the risk of being a pedantic lawyer, it therefore appears, as a strictly legal matter, that, if the current American jurisprudence or prevailing legal theory now holds that a person accused (but not yet tried or convicted) of serious crimes may, after his apprehension, be summarily executed, Osama bin Laden was executed for Nairobi, Dar es Salaam and Aden, but NOT for 9/11.

To really achieve “closure” and celebrate, the American people will have to await (perhaps for a long time) the trial, conviction and execution of Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, billed in recent years as the “mastermind of 9/11”.

Bin Laden’s end: Unanswered questions


…..Yet you can’t help a twinge of sadness at the tragic end Bin Laden has met — far from the land of his birth that he so loved. He was driven by the belief — hopelessly distorted as it was — that he was fighting to free Muslim lands and for justice for the Palestinians, Afghans and for the oppressed everywhere.

Muslims never identified with OBL or condoned his appalling crimes. They, however, understood what forced a quiet young man to kick his billion-dollar fortune and take up arms. He struck a chord in not just Arabs and Muslims but in the dispossessed everywhere by taking on the big bullies who have killed more innocents and wreaked more destruction on our world than a million Bin Ladens could have managed in their life time.

Besides, the way this whole charade has been played out with President Obama and his aides “coolly” watching the action live in real time as if it was a baseball game, and his body being dumped into the Arabian Sea has only added to their disgust and outrage. Using all that overwhelming force to kill an unarmed, ailing man without a trial. So much for America’s fabled justice system and due process!

Shouldn’t Bin Laden have been put on the trial for the crimes he has been accused of? What was the hurry to bury him at sea? What was it that America was trying to cover up? And how is Obama’s justice different from the “dead-or-alive” cowboy retribution of his predecessor?

But dead or alive, we haven’t heard the last of this yet. Bin Laden may be dead and gone; his cause is not. Others will take his place and may already have. If the world is to prevent the rise of more Bin Ladens, it must take its scalpel to the festering cancer of injustice and oppression in the Holy Land. Now that the so-called architect of 9/11 is gone, the US has no pretext or business to be in Afghanistan-Pakistan, Iraq and elsewhere. Bin Laden has taken with him to his watery grave the West’s raison d’être for its imperial project in the Muslim world.

Aijaz Zaka Syed is a widely published columnist.


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Filed under 5. Bin Laden / Al-Qaeda

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