Tell me I shouldn’t be surprised by anything the NYT does or writes?
Thank you, I’m not in the least.
The latest disgrace comes on the heels of the recent suicides at Gitmo Bay and calls for the prison to be shut down. The NYT has printed an editorial by Mourad Benchellali, “Detainees in Despair, that appeared in the 14 June edition. Here is a sample (emphasis mine):
In the early summer of 2001, when I was 19, I 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. For two months, I was there, trapped in the middle of the desert by fear and my own stupidity.
As soon as my time was up, I headed home. I was a few miles from the Pakistani border when I learned with horror about the attacks of 9/11. Days later, the border was sealed off, and the only way through to Pakistan and a plane to Europe was across the mountains of the Hindu Kush. I was with a group of people who were all going the same way. No one was armed; most of them, like me, had been lured to Afghanistan by a misguided and mistimed sense of adventure, and were simply trying to make their way home.
I was seized by the Pakistani Army while having tea at a mosque shortly after I managed to cross the border. A few days later I was delivered to the United States Army: although I didn’t know it at the time, I was now labeled an “enemy combatant.” It did not matter that I was no one’s enemy and had never been on a battlefield, let alone fought or aimed a weapon at anyone.
After two weeks in the American military base in Kandahar, Afghanistan, I was sent to Guantánamo, where I spent two and a half years. I cannot describe in just a few lines the suffering and the torture; but the worst aspect of being at the camp was the despair, the feeling that whatever you say, it will never make a difference.
It goes without saying one has to be pretty stupid to believe a trip to Afghanistan would be a “dream vacation” even in the pre-war period. As a self professed “quiet Muslim” and claiming to have “never waged war, let alone an asymmetrical one” he had every opportunity to learn of the conditions there. After all the man is a French citizen, they do have newspapers and dailly TV newscasts there.
This part of Benchellali’s story is only important in the sense it puts on display how far the NYT will stoop to show it’s distain for journalistic integrity. Here’s the rest of Benchellali’s story.
France recently put on trial 27 people suspected of planning terrorist attacks in France. As the case developed 2 cases were dropped, but 25 were convicted of various terrorist related charges. (emphasis mine)
A court on Wednesday convicted 25 people for their roles in preparing an attack in France in support of Islamic fighters in Chechnya.
The five top defendants received prison terms of 8 to 10 years, while the others received lesser sentences. Two were acquitted. All but one defendant had been accused of helping Islamic fighters in Chechnya in what prosecutors said underscored the “globalization of the jihad movement.”
Prosecutors were unable to prove strong suspicions that the attack was to have involved chemicals, even though investigators found equipment, including a protective suit, and chemicals including the highly toxic ricin.
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. One other was convicted of using false papers.
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.
So I ask you, what are we to believe, the NYT version of someone who should have owned a Frommer’s Guide to Afghanistan before his “dream vacation?”
Or should we believe Mourad Benchellali’s family is knee-deep in terrorist activities and have been convicted of same? I tend to believe the later. In Benchellali’s editorial he note’s that “I will go on trial next month in Paris to face charges that I’ve never denied, that I spent two months in the Qaeda camp.”
What he has denied, or avoided mentioning, along with the NYT is his background.
This BBC report provides more background on “The French 25’s” intent to use chemical weapons. It also reports that one of the Benchellalis’ sons (Mourad) was one of six French detainees heGuantánamold at at Guantanamo on suspicion of ties to al Qaeda.
“Suspicion of ties to al Qaeda;” I’d say so, real close ties. As close as any of the Sopranos.
I’d also say the NYT isn’t through painting terrorists and Guantánamo detainees as victims. They follow up the next day with Jihadist or Victim: Ex-Detainee Makes a Case that tells the story of Moazzam Begg who was released from Guantánamo last year on the orders of President Bush. He has become quite the celebrity in Briton with Human rights groups and University students tripping over themselves to here him speak.
I can’t vouch for his guilt or innocence, he may in fact be a victim. What is apparent is the NYT have taken it upon themselves to fill their editorial pages with “victim stories” whether merited or not.