Marc A. Thiessen – The state of our terrorist detention policy

Obama probably won’t mention Ghailani‘s name from the rostrum of the House of Representatives. But the Ghailani case underscores the necessity of his quiet decision to change course and lift the ban he imposed after his inauguration on new military commission trials at Guantanamo. An infuriating New York Times story last week described how Ghailani’s lawyers managed to convince the jury that their client had no idea that he was involved in a plot to blow up two American embassies using explosives-laden trucks. The jury even sent a note asking the judge whether Ghailani needed to know the plot’s specific objectives, or was it enough that he knew something unlawful was going on? The judge told them Ghailani had to know the specific objective of the conspiracies – and later that same day, the jury acquitted him on all but one count.

But Ghailani did know the specific objectives of the plot. In 2007, after being transferred from CIA custody to Guantanamo Bay, he was interviewed by the FBI and provided a confession he acknowledged was completely voluntary. Ghailani told the FBI that he had put “the pieces of the puzzle together” before the attacks and even considered stopping the plot because he believed civilian locations like embassies and hotels were not proper targets for al-Qaeda. Continue reading

Pakistani militants fighting one jihad for many reasons

Tom Hussain, Foreign Correspondent

Last Updated: January 29. 2010 12:18AM UAE / January 28. 2010 8:18PM GMT

Religious schools are one of the means – but far from the only one – by which jihadists are recruited. Khalid Tanveer / AP Photo

LAHORE // A year ago, in the central industrial city of Gujranwala, a gentle, thoughtful giant of a man named Asim Goraya agreed to arrange meetings for The National with local representatives of Lashkar-i-Taiba, the militant group accused of carrying out the November 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai.

However, Goraya had little in common with LiT. Rather than spend his days plotting the destruction of India and the United States, he believed in a romanticised jihad that was a duty for practising Muslims and involved fighting only the non-Muslim powers occupying Muslim lands.

That sense of duty led him to run away in 1980 from home at the age of 12 to join the jihad against the Soviet forces then occupying Afghanistan; he got as far as a training camp in the north-west Khyber tribal agency before his father tracked him down four days later and took him home. Continue reading