Federal prosecutors in Manhattan filed charges last week against radical Islamist Arid Uka, who confessed to killing 21-year-old Airman First Class Zachary R. Cuddeback of Virginia and 25-year-old Senior Airman Nicholas J. Alden of South Carolina outside Frankfurt’s international airport in March.
During the shooting spree, in which Uka wounded two additional servicemen, he shouted “Allahu akbar!” (Arabic for “God is great”).
The U.S. government has stayed strangely mum about whether or not it will ask German authorities to extradite Uka for prosecution on American soil. There is good historic reason to doubt that Germany will enact appropriate penalties against terrorists convicted of murdering U.S. soldiers. Even if a German court sentenced Uka to life in prison, it would likely release him well in advance.
The same day that federal prosecutors filed their charges against Uka, a Frankfurt court (yes, Frankfurt again) announced the release of Red Army Faction terrorist Birgit Hogefeld, who served only 18 years in prison for the murder of U.S. soldier Edward Pimental and the bombing of a U.S. military base that killed two more U.S. servicemen.
In 1985, Hogefeld lured Pimental away from a disco to steal his identity card, and a court later convicted her of complicity in his murder. Later, the Red Army Faction used Pimental’s credentials to gain entry to the Rhein-Main Air Base, and used explosives to kill two more people. In 2007, the German authorities released Hogefeld’s partner, Eva Haule, who helped kill Pimental, and received only 21 years in prison.
Before releasing Hogefeld, the German judicial system granted freedom to her fellow RAF terrorists Brigitte Monhaupt in 2007 and Christian Klar in 2008. Monhaupt and Klar were supposed to be incarcerated for life for the killing of West German officials and their bodyguards, as well as the attempted assassination of a U.S. Army general. Klar served a mere 26 years, and Monhaupt was set free after 24 years.
The delusional RAF terrorists — also known as the Baader-Meinhof gang — sought to abolish capitalism and crush American imperialism To this day, segments of Germany society continue to romanticize the anti-American terrorists as a kind of contemporary German version of the Bonnie and Clyde gang.
The RAF members — an outgrowth of Germany’s 1968 counter-cultural student movement — were perhaps the most telling early example of the marriage between extremist left-wing groups and the lethal anti-Semitism of the Palestinian terror movement in the 1970′s. Ulrike Meinhof, a key member of RAF, issued a statement of solidarity for the Palestinian terrorist group Black September’s killing of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
The United States stations roughly 50,000 servicemen in Germany. The combination of the country’s culture of leniency and its growing radical Islamic movement does not bode well for the security of Germans or Americans. Despite German authorities’ claims that Uka was a lone gunmen, his Facebook page shows that he had clear connections to some of Germany’s most violent Islamists.
Both German and American officials have airbrushed Uka’s Islamic fundamentalism out of the picture, even though it undeniably motivated his actions, just as the U.S. military report on the deaths of 13 military personnel at Fort Hood glossed over Nidal Malik Hasan’s immersion in radical Islam. Attorney General Eric Holder has gone to lengths to avoid citing radical Islam as an inspiration for terrorism.
But ideology matters. In a piece in these pages in March, Mark Steyn wrote of the interface between Uka’s Islamic ideology and the killing of Americans. Steyn was one of the few commentators who faced up to the reality of the attack.
If the Obama administration is serious about pursuing terrorists who kill Americans — be it on U.S. soil or abroad — it should demand that Uka be tried in the United States. If history is any guide, the alternative will be a far cry from justice.
— Benjamin Weinthal is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.