A few weeks ago, it would have been safe to say not a single foreign terrorist in the world could find Bowling Green, Kentucky, on a map. But after the ill-advised decision of the Obama Administration to try two foreign fighters in a civilian federal court in Bowling Green, they probably know where it is now.
Over the past few weeks, a broad bipartisan coalition of concerned local, state, and federal leaders have expressed deep concerns with the prospect of trying these enemy combatants in Kentucky.
Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi are not American citizens; they’re enemy combatants who have taken up arms against U.S. soldiers overseas. Alwan boasted of using explosives and missiles against our troops in Iraq hundreds of times in past years. He told undercover agents he was “very good with a sniper rifle” and bragged that his “lunch and dinner would be an American.”
Alwan admitted to using TNT, electronic detonators, tank explosive detonators, IED detonators, mortar shells, and rocket-propelled grenades. He’s drawn diagrams of IEDs, explained how to build them, and spoken of using them against American troops in Iraq. His fingerprints have been found on IEDs in Iraq in an area where he’s known to have lived.
After Alwan entered the United States due to an alarming flaw in the screening process, he recruited Hammadi, also an enemy combatant who fought our troops in Iraq. He participated in IED attacks as well, and his group of fighters in Iraq even possessed 11 surface-to-air missiles. Together, they organized shipments of money and weapons, including rocket grenade launchers, Stinger missiles, and C4 explosives, to send back to the Iraqi war zone.
In short, these two are not common criminals who should be provided all the rights and privileges of American citizens. They are enemy combatants who should be transferred to the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where they can be interrogated, detained, and brought to justice.
I commend the skill and professionalism of law enforcement and prosecutors for apprehending these terrorists and preventing further violence on our troops. And yes, it is possible to simply try them as common criminals in a civilian court. But after Congress created a $200-million, state-of-the-art facility in Guantanamo Bay precisely to handle foreign fighters like them, why would we want to? It simply makes no sense to saddle Kentuckians with the security and logistical costs associated with ensuring the safety of our residents during a civilian trial.
Look no further than the 2006 trial of Zacarias Moussaoui in Alexandria, Virginia, as an example of what we can expect if this disastrous idea stands. The Washington Post reported that the town was turned into “a virtual encampment, with heavily armed agents, rooftop snipers, bomb-sniffing dogs, blocked streets, [and] identification checks.”
Trying these terrorists in a civilian courtroom could also risk compromising classified information used as evidence in the trial. That too has happened before in trials of this sort—and the Justice Department has already said that they expect the use of classified information in this case.
And what happens if these detainees are acquitted, as nearly happened with Ahmed Ghailani? Ghailani was detained at Guantanamo Bay for his role in attacks on American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people. The administration transferred him to New York for a civilian trial. A jury found him not guilty of 284 of the 285 charges against him, including every single murder charge.
Now, if a Guantanamo detainee is acquitted of a crime, the military can still detain him there under the law of war. Even if the military does not have evidence to hold him indefinitely, a federal court has ruled that foreign nationals at Guantanamo do not have the right to be released into our country. If a detainee is acquitted in a civilian court, however, the government’s ability to continue to detain them indefinitely is far less certain.
Unlike the Attorney General, Eric Holder, who believes that our “most effective terror-fighting weapon” is our court system, the good people of Kentucky know that our military is what keeps us safe. Our men and women in uniform have sacrificed everything to preserve our freedom and our rights as Americans.
It’s my hope that by expressing our freedom of speech together, we can convince the Obama Administration that it’s a bad idea to provide American judicial protections, at great cost to Kentucky taxpayers, to terrorists who are accused of attacking our troops in Iraq.