The Corner

Re: Mustafa Ozbilgin

The only thing I can add to Michael’s poignant and appropriately dire post about the jihadist murder of Judge Ozbilgin in Turkey is that we needn’t infer that the day may be fast approaching when such things can happen in our own courtrooms.  They already have.  We were fortunate to have appropriate security — Judge Leonard B. Sand, presiding over proceedings in the embassy bombing case in New York (i.e., long before 9/11), was not injured.  But what follows, taken from a 2002 legal submission in the Moussaoui case, is the Justice Department’s description of what occurred.  It is lengthy because I’ve included information about a second attack (on a corrections officer) and about what al Qaeda teaches its operatives in this regard.

The Continuing Jihad After ApprehensionOthers associated with al Qaeda have exhibited an unparalleled contempt for the criminal justice system, even after their apprehension and detention. For example, as noted in prior filings with Judge Sand and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, on June 22, 1999, the defendants [Wadi] el Hage [a key personal aide of bin Laden’s] and [Mohammed Daoud] al-‘Owhali [who bombed the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, killing over 200 people] coordinated an attack in the courtroom. During the June 22nd court proceeding, el Hage demanded that Judge Sand read verbatim a letter el Hage wrote in which he blamed the U.S. Government (naming U.S. law enforcement officials) for the embassy bombings. Judge Sand refused to read the entire letter, instead providing a summary of the letter’s contents. Later during that proceeding, el Hage leaped out of the jury box (where all the defendants had been placed due to a lack of table space) and dashed toward the front of the courtroom, toward Judge Sand. El Hage was tackled by a Deputy U.S. Marshal on the steps leading to the bench, a few feet past the exit door and several feet from Judge Sand. [FOOTNOTE:  After el Hage jumped from his seat in the jury box, al-‘Owhali interfered with one of the Deputy U.S. Marshals who attempted to pursue el Hage.]

This attack was followed by the vicious attack on Corrections Officer Louis Pepe on November 1, 2000. On that day, fellow officers and personnel in the Metropolitan Corrections Center in Manhattan responded to a body alarm, evidently triggered when Officer Pepe fell horizontally. What the rescue crew discovered when they approached a cell shared by Mamdouh Salim [another key bin Laden confidante] and Khalfan Khamis Mohammed [who had helped build the bomb detonated at the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam] … was Officer Pepe lying on the ground with a “shank” stuck into his eye.[FOOTNOTE: Salim and Khalfan Mohammed, along with their co-defendants, had been paired up in a cell after complaints had been raised by a co-defendant about the allegedly deleterious effects of solitary confinement. After the attack, … solitary confinement was re-instituted.]  A later examination of Officer Pepe revealed that the shank had been rammed through his eye socket and over two inches into his brain. To this day, Officer Pepe is unable to care for himself and continues to suffer severe medical complications from the assault. A subsequent search of the prison cell in which Officer Pepe was stabbed uncovered several notes that indicated that Officer Pepe was brutally attacked as part of a broader plot to take hostages (including defense counsel) and escape from prison. …

These post-apprehension efforts are unsurprising given the explicit instructions al Qaeda has provided to its members/associates. In April 2000, British law enforcement officials discovered a training manual in the Manchester residence of a known al Qaeda member. This manual, entitled “Declaration of Jihad Against the Country’s Tyrants – Military Series,” is a veritable how-to guide on al Qaeda terrorist activities. There is an entire section on the use of “secret writing” (invisible ink) and the use of ciphers and codes. Within this section, there is the instruction to use “an innocent-looking letter (family-personal greeting)” to pass on coded or secret messages. There is also a detailed description of several cipher systems that al Qaeda trains its members/associates, such as Moussaoui, to use. … Of even greater significance is the express instructions al Qaeda provides to its followers regarding continuing the jihad from prison. In this “Lesson,” al Qaeda tells its members/associates to “complain [to the court] of mistreatment while in prison.” The manual also instructs al Qaeda detainees to “[t]ake advantage of visits to communicate with brothers outside prison and exchange information that may be helpful to them in their work outside prison [according to what occurred during the investigations]. The importance of mastering the art of hiding messages is self evident here.” 

That’s the real world folks.  That’s what we’re up against.  Now we return you to our regular programming … about whether President Bush should be impeached for trying to stop these nice people from killing us.

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