Major Terrorist Snuck into U.S. - by Obama AdministrationAnnemarie McAvoy in Family Sercuity Matters, July 12, 2011
by Annemarie McAvoy
Even now, the Obama Administration does not seem to understand fully the risks that terrorism poses to our country. Why else would they commit the outrage of sneaking Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame, believed to be a senior commander with an al Qaeda group known as al-Shabaab in Somalia, into the middle of NYC from the Persian Gulf ? Warsame has direct ties to Al Awlaki, one of the most wanted terrorists and the only American citizen with a CIA kill-order on him. It was not made public that Warsame was being brought to US shores until he was already in New York. Why? So that this Administration could bypass the public outrage they rightfully suffered when they tried to proceed against the 9/11 co-conspirators in federal courtin New York.
The Administration seems to purposely ignore the fact that terrorists are at war with America. Terrorists have continued trying to come up with new, frightening schemes to attack America and those on American soil. On June 3, 2011, an al Qaeda video called on lone wolf attacks to take place in the United States. Thereafter a “hit list” was put on an al Qaeda website which set forth names of forty figures from the US government, the military and the media. It was also recently learned that terrorists may be planning to surgically implant bombs in people, in order to make it virtually impossible to detect the danger prior to the mayhem they will cause. This threat needs to be taken very seriously, and when terrorists are brought into custody they should be handled as people at war with the US, not as simple run-of-the-mill criminals.
There was no reason that Warsame, a citizen of Somalia, should have been brought onto US soil. He was captured on April 19, 2011, in the Persian Gulf while traveling by boat from Somalia to Yemen. Rather than take him to Guantanamo Bay, which is set up to deal with terrorists like Warsame, he was instead interrogated on a US warship for two months in the Gulf Region. Warsame was questioned by the High-Value Interrogation Group, which is led by the FBI but includes CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency specialists. He was advised of his Miranda rights only after these interrogations were completed, about two months following his apprehension. Then an FBI “clean team” was brought in to interview Warsame again.
The Administration, by bringing in the “clean team,” shows it recognizes that there may be problems getting statements and evidence into federal court learned through questioning of Warsame. The belief of the Administration is that once he is Mirandized they can use whatever he says after that. However, the theory of using a “clean team” to essentially come in and sanitize what was done initially is questionable at best. There is a good chance that in a federal court anything that is learned from Warsame will not be able to be used since he was not Mirandized when he was taken into custody in the first place.
Apparently the Obama Administration did not learn any lessons from the near disastrous result of the last terrorism case tried in federal court in NYC. Ahmed Ghailani was a terrorist involved in the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa which killed 224 people. The government’s star witness was not allowed to testify because the existence of that witness came to light as a result of interrogations that did not comport with the requirements of federal courts. Ghailani was convicted of only one out of the 285 counts against him, and it was a relatively minor charge compared to the rest of the counts. In addition, there are issues in federal court relating to having to turn over sensitive information pertaining to our strategies in combatting terrorism and having such information made public at trial.
Warsame was indicted in federal court in the Southern District of New York and pled not guilty there last week. He faces nine counts, including providing material support to al Shabaab and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemen-based branch of al Qaeda. He apparently acted as a conduit between the two groups. According to the indictment, in 2009 Mr. Warsame fought for al Shabaab in Somalia. In addition, he provided money, equipment, and personnel to the group over the next two years. Warsame also received explosives as well as training from al Qaeda in Yemen in 2010 and 2011. He has also been charged with teaching how to make explosives and with brokering a weapons deal with al Qaeda on behalf of al Shabaab.
Without question Warsame should be handled as an enemy of the United States. He should have been brought to the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he could be tried by a military tribunal, instead of to NYC. As Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pointed out, “The administration has purposefully imported a terrorist into the U.S. and is providing him all the rights of U.S. citizens in court.” He also correctly stated that “This ideological rigidity being displayed by the administration is harming the national security ofthe United States of America.” Congressman Peter King of New York, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, agrees that Warsame should have been brought to Guantanamo, not to a civilian court. He explained that "He is not an American citizen, nor did his criminal acts or his detention occur in the U.S. He is a Somali who traveled to Yemen for terror training. Warsame is a foreigner and an unlawful enemy combatant." Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire stated that "As an active member of two terrorist groups that have planned attacks against Americans and our allies, Warsame should be treated as an enemy combatant and tried in amilitary commission at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, where classified information and the public can be fully protected."
The Administration continues to ignore the fact that terrorists are in fact enemy combatants who should be treated as such. Currently the Justice Department is prosecuting the case of two men who arecharged in federal court in Kentucky with conspiring to send weapons and money to al Qaeda in Iraq, one of whom also is alleged to have attacked US troops in Iraq. There apparently were fingerprints of one of them found on an unexploded Improvised Explosive Device (“IED”) found in Iraq by US forces. One of the first questions that will come up in federal court will be whether the appropriate chain of custody was followed in the handling of that IED as evidence. If not, it will not be admissible. Our forces should not have to have such worries when handling IED’s in the battlefield, with their lives at stake.
If we as Americans do not remain vigilant, and fail to treat terrorists as the enemy combatants they are, the jihadists will become more brazen and will inflict deadly blows. Terrorists are not just run-of-the-mill criminals. They are part of a concerted effort to destroy the US and its way of life. Our federal justice system is not set up to deal with them, butmilitary commissions in Guantanamo Bay are. The fact that terrorists are now targeting individuals ought to be a grim reminder that they are constantly trying to find new ways to try to hurt us. America must treat these terrorists as the enemy combatants that they are, including trying them inmilitary commissions rather than in federal courts. After all, the terrorists look at this as an all-out war against us. We have to do the same when dealing with them.
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributor Annemarie McAvoy is a former federal prosecutor. She currently is a consultant and teaches Counter-Terrorism, Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing at Fordham Law Schoolin New York City.