For all the grief America is suffering over Guantanamo Bay, U.S. soldiers there might as well have flushed 1,001 Korans down 1,001 toilets–live on Al-Jazeera TV. Newsweek’s May 15 retraction of its false and deadly Koran-in-the-can story has worked as well as a severed brake line in slowing calls by Democrats (and some wobbly Republicans) to padlock the terrorist detention facility. Illinois’s Dick Durbin, the U.S. Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, infamously compared Gitmo to the Soviet Gulag, Nazi concentration camps, and the Khmer Rouge’s killing fields, despite the base’s paucity of firing squads, gas chambers, or neatly stacked human skulls. After a week of brickbats, Durbin tearfully offered a qualified apology for his remarks.
Durbin and other Bushophobes should squirt some of their copious bile on those who esteem devout Muslims far less than do Gitmo’s guards. Administration critics largely overlook the way the Guantanamo detainees’ Islamofascist comrades mistreat fellow Muslims. Leftists shriek when a Gitmo guard forgets to don surgical gloves before touching a Koran. But when Taliban, al Qaeda, and other terrorists blast mosques to bits, “Well. . . uh. . . what’s on PBS?”
Associated Press reports, among others, document (see this chart) how militant Islamists (primarily Sunnis) have treated Shiite shrines with all the deference the SS showed synagogues in the 1940s.
‐June 1, 2005: A suicide bomber blasted the funeral of Mullah Abdul Fayaz, a moderate cleric, at his eponymous mosque in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He killed Kabul’s police chief and 20 others, while wounding 50.
“The attacker was a member of al-Qaeda. We have found documents on his body that show he was an Arab,” Kandahar governor Gul Agha Sherzai told the AP’s Noor Khan. “We had an intelligence report that Arab al-Qaeda teams had entered Afghanistan and had been planning terrorist attacks.”
‐January 20, 2005: A suicide bomber exploded inside the Ghocha Park Mosque in Sheberghan, injuring 21, six reportedly in critical condition.
‐January 16, 2005: An anti-personnel mine went off at the Sal Metra mosque in Urozgan province, wounding two worshippers.
‐June 30, 2003: An earlier bombing at Fayaz’s mosque injured 16.
“Mullah Fayaz said the Taliban were not following Islam and that their interpretation of Islam was wrong,” Kandahar police chief Mohammed Akram told reporters. “This is the . . . reason they probably attacked Mullah Fayaz’s mosque.”
To date, colleagues of the Gitmo Boys have killed 21 and wounded 89 in Afghan mosque bombings.
Iraq’s picture is even bloodier:
‐May 23, 2005: A car bomb at a Baghdad mosque killed two and wounded 22, including 11 children.
‐May 19, 2005: A bomb at a Saydiya mosque killed two and hurt five.
‐April 22, 2005: A car bomb at a Baghdad mosque disrupted Friday prayers, killing nine and wounding 26.
‐March 10, 2005: A suicide bomber detonated himself during a funeral at a Mosul mosque, murdering 47 people and injuring at least 101.
‐February 18, 2005: On Ashoura, Shiites’ holiest day, homicide bombers attacked two Baghdad mosques, killing 25 and wounding 30.
‐February 18, 2005: A car bomb killed eight and hurt 10 at an Iskandariyah mosque.
‐August 26, 2004: Mortar shells pummeled a Najaf mosque, leaving 27 dead and 63 injured.
‐March 2, 2004: Homicide bombers, mortars, and hidden explosives at mosques in Baghdad and Karbala killed 181 and wounded 573 Ashoura worshippers.
‐August 29, 2003: A car bomb outside a Najaf mosque killed 85 and injured 140.
Add the 386 killed and 970 injured in Iraq to the Afghan figures above: The terrorist pals of Guantanamo’s al-Qaeda and Taliban residents have butchered 407 Muslims and injured 1,059 more in these mosque attacks alone.
After crying for these murdered and maimed Muslims, weep for the Korans destroyed in this mayhem. At worst, a May 27 Pentagon probe revealed, U.S. personnel at Guantanamo mistreated Korans on 13 occasions, only five deliberately, notwithstanding Army requirements that soldiers “handle the Koran as if it were a fragile piece of delicate art.”
In one “atrocity,” a Koran was stacked atop another Koran on a TV set. Elsewhere, interrogators twice “either touched or stood over” the Koran during questioning. In the most unfortunate episode, a soldier relieved himself outdoors last March 25. The breeze shifted towards a cellblock, and an adjacent air duct splattered some of his urine onto a detainee’s nearby Koran and uniform. The soldier was reprimanded and reassigned to gate-guard duty. The detainee scored a new Koran and a fresh uniform.
Compare this to the Islamofascist explosions and fires that repeatedly reduce the received word of Allah to ashes.
According to the Pentagon inquiry, Muslim detainees at Gitmo mishandled the Koran 15 times. One inmate used his Koran as a pillow. Another tried to annoy guards by tearing up his Koran and stuffing its pages into–get this–a toilet.
Despite the more common detainee disrespect for these Korans–furnished by U.S. taxpayers, not the Book of the Month Club–America somehow remains this story’s perceived villain.
While human-rights activists seemingly regard the Gitmo detainees as mere shoplifters who stumbled into eastern Cuba, these are actually hardened killers who threaten and sometimes attack their guards and interrogators and promise to kill Jews and Americans if sprung.
The June 20 Time described the interrogation of one of these thugs. Mohammed al-Qahtani, also known as Detainee 063, tried to enter America via Orlando International Airport in August 2001, but suspicious immigration officials turned him down. Just yards away, waiting to pick him up, was none other than September 11 ringleader Mohamed Atta.
Federal investigators believe al-Qahtani would have been “the muscle” on United Airlines Flight 93, the only jet seized by four, not five, hijackers. Had Atta collected him in Orlando, al-Qahtani ultimately might have shielded that flight’s cockpit from the passenger rebellion that steered that 757 into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. If so, al-Qahtani and company might have reached Washington, D.C. and slammed Flight 93 into the very U.S. Capitol in which Senator Durbin uttered his despicable words.
Rather than expire in a fireball, al-Qahtani crossed paths with U.S. soldiers on the Afghan-Pakistani border after he fled the battle of Tora Bora. The U.S. military flew him to Gitmo in February 2002.
While most Americans would love to see al-Qahtani hung, drawn, and quartered, his “abuse” recalls a Monty Python sketch in which agents of the Spanish Inquisition torture a victim with soft cushions. According to a classified interrogation history that Time excerpted, “A latex glove was inflated and labeled the ’sissy slap’ glove.” On December 13, 2002, “The glove was touched to the detainee’s face periodically after explaining the terminology to him.” Al-Qahtani watched a puppet show “satirizing the detainee’s involvement with al-Qaeda.” Two days earlier, “He was taken outside to see a family of banana rats. . . Detainee was compared to the family of banana rats and reinforced that they had more love, freedom, and concern than he had. Detainee began to cry during the comparison.” It is unclear whether al-Qahtani welled up when interrogators made him listen to the music of Christina Aguilera.
The toughest thing this almost-20th September 11 hijacker faced during interrogation was having water poured on his head. In another instance, he was given intravenous drips for rehydration after he refused to drink water. As he became replenished, interrogators refused his requests for a bathroom break until he answered their questions. He eventually urinated in his pants. Messy? Yes. Mengele? No.
“He is beginning to understand the futility of his situation,” an interrogator noted 30 minutes later. “He is much closer to compliance than at the beginning of the operation.”
Once interrogators broke al-Qahtani, he discussed, among other things, al-Qaeda’s border-penetration techniques, Osama bin Laden’s health condition, and the missions of “Shoe Bomber” Richard Reid and “Dirty Bomber” Jose Padilla. As a June 12 Pentagon document explains, al-Qahtani also identified 30 Gitmo detainees as former bin Laden bodyguards. This should help interrogators question them. Connecting these dots may help U.S. officials prevent Muslim extremists from murdering innocent civilians in America and elsewhere. Nothing less is at stake here.
The White House should energetically, concretely refute its critics’ constant carping. Start with President Bush. He should deliver a major address presenting clear and convincing evidence of who the Gitmo Boys are, how they got there, what kind of intelligence they have yielded, the nearly polite tactics that generated this information, the violence they have promised if freed, and the deaths engineered by some of those who have been released. The Pentagon counts a dozen Guantanamo alumni who have relapsed. They have fired on U.S. GIs in Afghanistan and even murdered an Afghan judge.
It also is worthwhile to contrast America’s regard for Islam with the rampant carnage the detainees’ cohorts have exacted upon other Muslims. America’s detainees eat religiously appropriate meals, hear five daily calls to prayer on U.S. taxpayer-funded loudspeakers, and face Mecca accurately, thanks to arrows painted on their cell floors that point to Islam’s holiest spot. According to former Army sergeant Erik Saar’s Gitmo chronicle, Inside the Wire, one FBI interrogator grew a beard “as a sort of show of respect for their faith.” (In contrast, consider a July 7 hearing before U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain regarding Bashir Noorzai, a suspected Afghan heroin smuggler and Taliban confidant. Noorzai, among other things, has complained that being in solitary confinement in a federal jail in Downtown Manhattan has left him disoriented and unable to face Mecca when he prays.)
Meanwhile, the allies of our captured enemy combatants convert observant Muslims into body parts.
Presidential leadership–coupled with a coherent, pan-administration communications campaign involving facts, figures, and photographs–might help shrink this undeserved cancer on America’s reputation. Sadly, the White House has yet to schedule a doctor’s appointment.
–Deroy Murdock is a New York-based columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a senior fellow with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation in Fairfax, Virginia.