Op-Ed

Too dangerous to try terror case in Kentucky

Mitch McConnell, Senate minority leader, is Kentucky's senior senator.
Mitch McConnell, Senate minority leader, is Kentucky's senior senator.

The Herald-Leader is staking out very lonely territory when it comes out in favor of trying two Iraqi-born suspects in a civilian federal court here in Kentucky.

There's a broad, bipartisan consensus across the state: Get these alleged terrorists out of Kentucky.

I imagine readers of the editorial page are no exception — especially if they know all the facts.

The two men arrested in Bowling Green are not American citizens; they're apparently enemy combatants who have taken up arms against U.S. soldiers on a foreign battlefield.

One of them, Waad Ramadan Alwan, has boasted of using explosives and missiles against our troops in Iraq hundreds of times over the past several years, according to federal indictments.

According to undercover federal agents, he said he was "very good with a sniper rifle" and bragged that his "lunch and dinner would be an American" in reference to our troops.

Alwan admitted to using TNT, electronic detonators, tank explosive detonators, IED detonators, mortar shells and rocket-propelled grenades, according to the charges. He has drawn diagrams of IEDs, explained how to build them and talked of various occasions when he used them against U.S. troops in Iraq.

And his fingerprints have been found on an IED in Iraq in an area where he's known to have lived, federal officials said.

Based on the indictments: After Alwan entered the United States through what the Herald-Leader's editorial calls a "gap in screening," he recruited Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, also an experienced terrorist who fought our troops on Iraqi soil. Hammadi's group in Iraq 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 are not common criminal suspects who should be provided all the rights and privileges of the American justice system. They are charged as hardened terrorists who have waged war against the United States and should be treated as such.

There is no question that we could prosecute these men in civilian court, but after Congress created a $200 million, state-of-the-art facility in Guantanamo Bay precisely for this purpose, why would we want to?

It simply makes no sense to saddle Kentuckians with some of the security and logistical costs associated with ensuring the safety of our residents during the trial.

Look no further than the 2006 trial of Zacarias Moussaoui in Alexandria, Va., as an example of what we can expect.

The Washington Post reported that the town was turned into "a virtual encampment, with heavily armed agents, rooftop snipers, bomb-sniffing dogs, blocked streets, identification checks."

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to try these enemy combatants in Bowling Green instead of Guantanamo Bay is the wrong one.

I was shocked to hear Holder say recently that "our most effective terror-fighting weapon (is) our Article Three court system."

I think that if Osama bin Laden were still alive, he would say our most effective weapon is the American military.

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